Firstly, we want to take this moment to send our thoughts and prayers for all the people of Ukraine. War is a horrific state for any nation and people to suffer, and we join the world in hoping this situation comes to an end as soon as possible.
February has seen a tumultuous month for crypto in general, and Cardano continues on a wild roller-coaster. However, despite the market sentiments, the community continues to develop, astound and push the blockchain onwards and upwards.
We proudly launched the 1st ever CNFT awards that NMKR was able to launch in partnership with IOG and Emurgo! The event was a tremendous success, having been expertly and effortlessly presented by Hashoshi, and the final award of CNFT of the Year 2021 delivered by our CEO, Patrick Tobler. We won’t be giving anything away here though! You can read all about the excellent nominees (and their respective projects) and the winners in the section below.
In addition, we have already broken our own record for NFTs minted in a single month, and you can see these impressive figures in the “Review in Numbers” feature below, after the interview.
Speaking of excellent nominees, this month we are very excited to present to you a project that is taking the NFT scene by storm. This talented group has successfully merged art, literature and music with real, tangible utility and we firmly believe that they are worlds apart from anything you will find in the NFT space, on any blockchain! Allow us to present the ADA Ninjaz! We caught up with the Co-founder and COO Zushan Hashmi to get the lowdown…
MAKER Review (MR) Intro: G’day Mr Hashmi, and thank you for meeting with us. It can always be tricky trying to organise meetings when you’re 12 hours apart, but we’re happy we finally made it happen! Following on from your most recent (and AMAZING) launch of Season 2 NFT, we felt that you thoroughly deserved the spot for the NMKR Review of February. Congratulations! Despite the massive successes to date, there may still be parts of the community who are very new or unaware of the ADA Ninjaz, so it's about time we let everyone know who you are and where you’re going. Ready? Let’s get it…
MR Q1: Let’s start off the big question; Can you tell us why you chose Cardano? What is it about this blockchain that convinced you it was the place to launch your NFT project?
ADA Ninjaz (AN): Like most people, I started off in the Ethereum space, where I first learnt about NFTs. However, weighing the pros and cons, Tommy and I sat down to decide which blockchain to build on and we opted for Cardano.
One, I held a bag of ADA as it was, so it made a lot of sense. More importantly, though, we wanted to provide an opportunity to anyone and everyone to buy into ADA Ninjaz, with the dust fees on Cardano, this makes it possible, unlike Ethereum, where gas fees are so expensive, and filter out the ordinary buyer.
Lastly, Cardano is very much the green blockchain, and we strongly believe that the benefits of using Cardano vs other blockchains with regards to environmental impact, was the final reason as to why we went in this direction.
MR: Certainly does make sense, and we’re very glad that you did!
MR Q2: How big is your team and what are the key roles? Do you have in-house artists/designers?
AN: We have quite a large team with about 17 people plus 8 discord moderators. Besides Tommy and I, who run the overarching project, and manage all aspects of the business, we have Ignacio who is our Chief Creative Officer and leads the whole story front.
With Ignacio we have an amazing team of 3 writers and 3 illustrators who work on developing our story and illustrating our manga. We also have our Operations and Marketing manager, EJ, who leads our social media team. There is also an in-house NFT designer in our team, and a few other members who manage different aspects of the project, such as the game development.
MR: Oh wow, that’s probably the biggest team we’ve seen so far! We’re just wondering…how did you meet these wonderful people and grow such a huge team?
AN: We’ve been quite lucky, quite a few of the people were introduced to us by Kristian from NMKR, who has been a godsend when it comes to giving us advice and linking us up with the right people. Others we were connected to through mutual connections and we also held competitions on freelancing websites to find people, whom we’ve even onboarded on a permanent basis.
MR Q3: When and where did you hear about NMKR Studio for the first time, and what were the reasons that attracted you to the platform?
AN: Honestly, we were learning about Cardano NFTs in August last year, and came across NFT Maker Pro, as the premier NFT minting service on Cardano. We then proceeded to learning a little bit about NFT Maker and how things function and decided to reach out to Patrick and Kris, never looking back!
MR: We can understand why! Kristian and Patrick really are a force of nature in the tech space.
Q4: So, you’ve chosen NMKR Studio, fantastic! Please explain what your NFT project is all about! What are the utility, rarities and the USPs? We know our readers would love to know from the people who created it!
AN: ADA Ninjaz is a multimedia entertainment business that includes manga, NFTs and music. ADA Ninjaz NFT holders get to direct and drive the story of the manga, our core product. Every week our community engages in different forms of voting and our manga team then works on creating and delivering the manga pages every week.
These manga pages are then airdropped via random raffles to our holders. Similarly, our holders are involved in music creation, such as writing the lyrics, featuring in the song and so on.
We are in the process of integrating music and NFTs soon too, and currently building a game that holders can play to receive rewards.
Currently, there are 2 seasons of NFTs released, representing 2 of our 3 clans - Aramar and Atsuko. The 3rd clan, Daisuke, will be launching in Q2, followed by a great Ninjaz burn.
MR: This is incredible! Actually, the layers of tech and integration of all different art forms makes this one of the most experiential projects on any blockchain! This is an ever evolving legend in the making!
AN: Thank you! We are indeed trying to do something different, and some even argue, ahead of its time. We see the blockchain changing all aspects of the media world, whether that’s films, television, manga or anything else. Entertainment driven by hundreds of people, only to see it on a screen or book. That’s what we envision with ADA Ninjaz, and are already doing it.
MR Q5: Tell us about your experiences in using NMKR Studio. What was the platform like to work with in practice? Did you have any challenges when building the framework?
AN: We’ve been quite fortunate working with NMKR Studio, through our partnership, the NMKR team has managed all of our front-end and back-end development, alongside providing us with very valuable networking opportunities. It has been an extremely smooth process, and NMKR Studio has always gone above and beyond when supporting and assisting us.
MR: Thank you. A growing reputation we are very proud of!
MR Q6: Which front-end functions and back-end infrastructure for dealing with customer payments did you implement and why?
AN: We’ve been lucky to have the services of LE4F Agency, with Tobias and his team. They manage all the frontend side of things, and honestly, make our life a lot easier!
MR: Ah, yes! We saw Mr Tobias Steffan of the magnificent LE4F Agency on your team page. Can you tell us a little more of their involvement and how they helped?
AN: The LE4F Agency team manages all of our frontend development, from building the website, working with us on understanding the ideal UI/UX and supporting us on taking all things website related forward. They’re an incredible team!
MR Q7: Can you articulate how you formulated the user interface and experience of your website and why you decided on this final design and functionality?
AN: We wanted to present people with a very simple and easy-to-access website. That was our first key goal. Our website gives you 3 options at the start – Manga, NFT and Clan Wars. These are our key focuses as a project, along with music, and by clicking on either one, you go into learning more about each respective aspect of our business.
The manga section will let you read all 110 pages of the first manga volume, the NFT page shows you all of our NFT “design” processes, ie. How an ADA Ninjaz NFT comes to life, and the clan wars section gives you further lore about each clan and what they are all about.
Additionally, we have clickthroughs to our store, including our merch, which will very shortly include the ADAn: Aramar Origins Volume 1 Manga with NFT-Link. The first edition of our physical manga.
You can also read our whitepaper on the website and learn about the team.
MR: The physical NFT-Link Manga is something we are very excited about, and i’m certain so is everyone else judging by the way your NFTs have sold! Speaking of which…
MR Q8: How do you feel about your launch? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
AN: We had some hiccups during the Aramar (S1) launch, where we posted a wrong wallet address, luckily for us, that was one of our own addresses. We rectified this by refunding everyone within 36 hours and then proceeded to give them a unique NFT from a collection we set up, particularly for this purpose. They were also given whitelists for our S2 (Atsuko) Drop.
This was arguably, the smoothest drop of 2022, with no major issues taking place, and holders of S1 being able to mint an equivalent number of S2 in the first 48 hours. Following that, the public sale finishes within 8 hours, with S2 also selling out.
Personally, I wouldn’t do anything differently, the first drop was a big learning experience for us, and S2 was the culmination of that, with the help of NMKR Studio, of course.
MR: The learning experience is priceless, it’s what makes you stronger if you can learn from it. Also, watching our partner projects absolutely smash it is a big reason why we love what we do!
MR Q9: What’s next for your project? How do you envision the evolution of your NFTs?
AN: We are focused on getting our manga out to publishers, involving more manga artists, and working towards the dream of creating an anime. These are our long term goals.
In the near future, we are releasing the ADA Ninjaz: Clan Battles game, a 1v1v1 2D Rogue-like game for holders with level-ups, and integration with your Cardano wallet.
The ADA Ninjaz team is also working on some exciting things on the music front, which will really help us push the music side of our business. And of course, we have S3 coming out later this year, along with the Great Ninjaz Burn, later on.
MR: Certainly lot’s to keep you busy and for the fans to be excited about!
MR Q10: Any final words of advice for the readers who may be planning their own NFT launch?
AN: Get involved in projects - this could be as a holder, maybe signing up as a mod, or simply engaging with the community.
Reach out to people who have projects, and ask them for tips and advice. My doors are always open if you need advice on how to run your project.
Remember, if you’re going into this, you’re going to be doing things full-time, and I really mean full-time. You are going to have to give it your all, and it won’t be easy. However, it is a lot of fun, and you get to make some incredible friends on the way.