Speaking with Joel Comm alone today is pretty rare as he is mostly joined at the hip with his co presenter of The Bad Crypto podcast, Travis Wright. Today storms, COVID and NFT madness means the two have been separated but I am delighted to turn the tables and be able to interview him, rather than the other way around. He reminds me that the pair of them teased my Irish accent before – despite my protestations that I don’t have an accent. I would say that, wouldn’t I.
Together Joel and Travis have beaten a podcast track in blockchain and crypto, celebrating a three-year anniversary in July just gone. They kept on going in the bull market, they survived the crypto winter, they’ve interviewed hundreds of people and notched up more than 9 million downloads. As Joel points out, they haven’t just talked the talk, they’ve done the walk as well.
Their community created a cryptocurrency called Badcoin which could be mined on the most inferior of computers, quickly switched to virtual conferences when COVID struck (putting on Blockchain week) and then disappeared down the NFT rabbit hole launching the first digital collectible trading cards based on blockchain heroes.
NFT, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets which can be verified and tracked on the blockchain. See article here.
“We’re doers, we don’t just talk, we want to lead in this space.”
Having said that their talking is pretty impressive. When pressed for the best guests, Joel is reluctant to pick a favourite child, but happens on Max Keiser whom they recently interviewed. It wasn’t the first time, back in 2017 they first spoke with him. “He is so smart.”
And the worst? Well again Joel is hard pressed to pick an example but during the ICO season in 2017 and 2018 they had some projects he felt were not really suited to crypto. One example was an equine saddle with sensors and when the founder was asked why he was putting the project on the blockchain, he answered to raise money.
Joel just shrugs his shoulders at this point.
“It reminded me of the late 90s when you could raise money just by putting .com after any business – it didn’t have to have anything to do with the internet.”
Joel explains that they called the podcast The Bad Crypto Podcast as the guests, by and large, tended to more informed than the hosts.
“But that’s what makes it so interesting – we are not experts and we are not financial advisors but we are fascinated by the space and we love talking to people who are doing these amazing things. We are more infotainment if you like – we want to make the show appealing to crypto serious as well as crypto curious.”
While NFTs are having their day in the sun, the evolution stretches back to CryptoKitties.
“We did a whole show on them and Travis even had some – only he lost them of course. It’s abandoned somewhere on the ethererum blockchain. But I’ve always collected cards – Star Wars, Baseball cards, comic cards – so the concept of owning a collectable on a blockchain in your wallet fascinates me. To be able to show, sell or buy collectables online is very exciting.”
The Bad Crypto boys came up with an idea for collectables back in January of 2020. When attending The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, they gave away commemorative NFTs to people who came to their stall.
“Travis is a bit artsy and so he made an NFT on Ethereum which we gave away. Then we did the same with our shows. If we had someone really famous like Ron Paul we’d make an NFT for his show. People who listened to the show could get a proof of listenership – and a limited time to collect them.”
Initially they only minted a few NFTs but over time the number grew to the hundreds. However, running them on Ethereum was clunky and slow. The idea then migrated to creating NFT collectables on real Blockchain people and rather than giving them away, they could sell them, but this stalled for want of technology.
This line of thinking combined with the COVID lockdown made the cogs whirl a little faster. Then the green light happened with the Topps’ Garbage Pail Kids sale on the WAX platform.
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Joel had been a collector of the physical cards back in the day and when he saw the interest and the fact that the GPK cards sold out in day, he knew this was a winner.
“Immediately I went into full-on planning mode. WAX is super fast and there are no gas fees. WAX has also set up WAX Labs which funds projects. So we put together a proposal to create the blockchain heroes, parody heroes in an alternative universe, and long story short, WAX said yes.”
The Blockchain heroes are inspired by real people but have their own folk lore. There are 50 in total and they are different kinds of heroes; some are defenders, some are champions.
“We’ve made different versions of each hero with different levels of rarity. When launched in August they were the first set of cards to sell in WAX, not filthy fiat. They were released in two waves. In the first 10 seconds of the sale we were told by WAX that we had sent 25 times more traffic on the WAX platform.
“And it took just under 20 minutes for everything to be sold.”
Part of the success of the sale has been the emphasis on community. In the months coming up to the sale, reveals and news of the different cards were leaked into the active telegram group. Partnerships were also made with giants such as Cointelegraph and CoinGecko with free cards provided based on these brands.
Joel is incredibly proud that within 25 days of the sale, some 79% of the packs have been opened. This has been down to good community engagement but also by the desire to find elusive rare cards hidden in the packs. One of the heroes is called Genesis and is inspired by Satoshi him/herself. And within this rare set is a Genesis Electric – and none of the other cards have this element.
Overall the primary sale raised $110,000 in WAX tokens. Aside from trying to find the elusive Genesis Electric card, BCHeroes also contains what Joel calls ‘secret smoke’.
“We didn’t tell anyone about this – it was a surprise. For every hero in the set there is only one secret smoke card – of the possible 50 altogether there is still 15 undetected so far.”
The secondary market is also very active. A by-product of production of NFTs on the WAX platform is the random mint numbers. Prior to the launch of BCheroes, these unique numbers had not been considered important, however, in this community the lower the number minted the higher the value – which also drives more sales in the secondary market as the same cards can be ranked within sets.
Another kink developed by the Bad Crypto boys is the ability to burn cards or throw them into the Vortex. Collectors are encouraged to do this, which increases the rarity of remaining cards, while the burning collector is rewarded with unique NFTs. It’s a game the community can play.
“The dashboard offered by WAX is also super easy. We can see where the cards are, which packs have been opened and which cards have ended up in the Vortex.”
This is not the end, it’s only the beginning. Joel has updates planned over the coming weeks and then he plans on going back to WAX with another proposal, version 2.0 he calls it but he won’t give away any details.
Part of the suspense with the current 50 heroes is that not all the inspiring identities have been guessed.
“46 have been correctly guessed, leaving four to be identified. But we haven’t told them which are the correct 46,” and Joel giggles.
Which is why the boys correctly call themselves The BAD Crypto Podcast.