What prompted you to leave your 9-5 as an interior designer and pursue a more creative path?
So I was actually the first in my family to graduate from university, and although I wanted to get paid a 9-5 salary, and make my mum happy, it just didn’t make sense for me at the time to stay in the 9-5. It was after my brother’s death, where I realised that it was important for me to pursue my passion and goals. Even though my family valued stability, I’ve always had quite a high risk tolerance, so I went and became an artist. Then I realised that, even after winning grants, I didn't necessarily have a sustainable income coming my way as an artist, which meant I couldn't look after my mom. Despite this, I continued to stack up skills and pursue my creative interests and passions, and developed real life skillsets that people wanted to pay for, like marketing or product development. And that's how I ended up in the startup space.
What do you think has been key to getting to where you are now?
Having a very strong sense of self awareness, coupled with being understanding and rational in accepting feedback. For example when I was starting out as an artist and applied for grants, their feedback to me was that I “didn’t understand marketing”. I acknowledged that gap in my own knowledge and used that feedback to close that gap. I applied this process to everything in life, and organically, I eventually built up a very entrepreneurial skill set, and was able to become a business owner.
Why do you think self-promotion and building your personal brand is important and how do you personally go about it?
This is an interesting topic because the way I self-promote and build my personal brand is by simply sharing my journey, lessons and learnings. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with self-promotion at first and in fact went through my own battle with imposter syndrome. What really was the turning point was when I had a mindset change about my ‘failures’ and framed them more as learnings that other people could learn from too. I have a growth mindset that allowed me to share my lessons on what worked and what didn't work. And I think people really appreciated that. What’s also important to keep in mind is that I constantly experiment; while one person does 1 experiment, I might do 100 experiments, which allowed me to learn more, and in term it seems like I achieved more.
I think I was comfortable with being vulnerable online because I simply had nothing to lose. I think most people are scared of judgement, whereas that has never fazed me. In anything, building my personal brand in such an open way has opened more doors for me to access more interesting and helpful people. I think pride often comes in the way, because everyone wants to be perceived as perfect. Whereas I simply didn’t and don’t care. I just want to iterate and get the best results.
What do you think led to the success of Chubbiverse?
Two things - the memes and the team that I pulled together to make it happen. I had the right artists who could generate these cute and beautiful artworks, but that’s meaningless in the NFT space if they’re not relevant and memeable, because memes are like another way of having in-jokes or understanding the language within the space. I had a crypto person who was able to tell us who the key influencers were, what the jokes at the time were and essentially decoded the language that we were able to put into the memes, which was how we were able to grow our brand. So even though Chubbiverse are very cute NFTs, they have a strong memeability behind it which helped with the virality and exponential growth. We were able to get 2 billion GIPHY views in less than nine months. GIPHY views aren’t too important, but it shows that the IP is strong and that non-crypto people are also resonating with the brand. That means there’s a potential for the product to go outside of crypto space, and for us to develop merchandise and products like toys - which we are currently doing. In the crypto space, this is just another data point of the popularity. And we’re not done with Chubbiverse from here! We’re developing other income streams to make sure that we continue to survive. At the end of the day, we’re going to be developing products around the IP, from animations, toys, merchandise to more content.
What’s the biggest challenge that you’re facing in making Chubbiverse sustainable?
Honestly - taxes. We’re quite fortunate because our crypto person has really good treasury management skills. The NFT and Web3 space is extremely volatile, so ETH (Ethereum) can lose its value extremely quickly. Since most people don't know how to manage funds, a lot of Web3 and crypto companies, especially NFTs, where the founders aren’t familiar with treasury management, don't have the resources that they had a year ago especially because they don't factor taxes. So some companies are operating in negative right now, so they can't run or fund the projects or roadmaps that they wanted. But Chubbiverse and our team have a two year runway so we're sweet.
What would you like people to take away from your story?
I think I’ve gotten to where I am by generally having good self-awareness and not taking things personally. Most people take things too personally, and get defensive. When someone is sharing something or constructive criticism, they typically want to help you even though it doesn't sound like it. For example, I used to get triggered whenever people corrected my typos. Then I shifted my mindset and realised that they were consuming my content, enjoyed my messaging and wanted to help me. It’s just that people don’t share the good things, they always share the bad things - that's just how humans are. But, I gained three editors along the way.
You have to actively change the way you think about certain situations and not take things too personally. If you are getting triggered or defensive by something, it’s important to take the time to assess why. Why am I getting defensive about this certain thing? Realising that there’s something about it that hurts you, and taking the time to analyse it and understand why. After, it stops hurting as much, or doesn't even hurt at all.