This week, we are featuring Gorilla Shops as our Store Of The Week, a project the Mintbase team is all VERY excited about. However, we realise this title falls short in describing what the Gorilla Shops team are actually building — a true Shopify for NFTs. We might reconsider renaming this series in the future as we get more and more projects that don’t exactly fall under the definition of “Store”.
You know how we’re used to describing Mintbase as a Shopify for the blockchain? Well, Jakob Sievers, CEO of Gorilla funds, doesn’t see it that way. For him, Mintbase is the Shopify of Shopifies: not only you can build your own marketplace, but you can also build marketplaces for marketplaces. And that’s exactly what Gorilla Shops are doing (and killing it, if you ask us).
We spoke to Jakob about this ambitious project, how Mintbase and NEAR are supporting creators and builders and what’s next for Gorilla and the Web3 space.
When and why did you decide to start Gorilla shops?
JS: Good question, but not an easy one to answer. Why? Because there was no exact point in time where I knew “Hey, that’s the way: I am going to build Gorilla Shops” — it was rather like getting caught in the quicksand over the last year.
Why NEAR and Mintbase?
JS: I just couldn’t resist building on top of Mintbase. I guess it was around one year ago, as I researched how to add an NFT as a membership token for enzyme vaults. I checked Rarible, Opensea, Mintable, and Mintbase — and my main focus was developer friendliness. It didn’t take long.
Mintbase stood out of the crowd. Every Github repository has a character and the Mintbase GitHub character was welcoming and helpful. But until then, I had been fully engaged in building on Enzyme protocol, and the gas prices made NFTs on Ethereum unusable. I think I decided to build Gorilla Shops at this time.
Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
JS: I studied physics, chemistry, and computer science. I worked as a teacher for these three subjects for eight years in Germany. I always loved programming, and around 2014 I fell into the crypto rabbit hole. Read everything I found, built bots, and so on.
In 2020, I won a hackathon on Enzyme (formerly Melon) protocol and started to build on that. I decided to go full crypto and develop my company. In cooperation with the Zühlke Group, we created a page builder with a cool tech stack — thank you, Sascha! (Sascha is our Jamstack — God).
We combined the benefits of a world-class CMS (Sanity) with Gatsby to be able to deliver blazing fast Web Pages in one click. Static Web Pages that can easily be deployed to every decentralized Infrastructure like IPFS or Netlify with a Lighthouse Score of > 96% out of the box.
We are with that page builder in the beta phase but are blocked by regulatory requirements. The asset management industry is, I guess, the hardest regulated environment, and we always want to do our things right, so I have to fulfil several requirements to bring this page builder to the masses. But as we were blocked, we had free resources.
And so, we as a team decided to use this time to start our next project. And that was easy as I already got caught in that quicksand as I mentioned before. My ideas at the beginning of my journey just grew over time and, in the meantime, something exciting happened, too: NEAR solved the gas price problem for the NFTs. I don’t know how long this will last, but it makes it fun again.
I am not a chain maxi in any case. I love tech that works. To say that I knew what NEAR delivers is also just a lie. I just followed Mintbase — because I knew they are pretty good builders. Okay, in retrospect, it is clear that builders do not choose an environment that does not fit. But building on NEAR also makes things FUN. What a tremendous and developer-friendly environment.
What is your vision for Gorilla Shops? What sort of businesses do you think will be utilising your tools?
JS: This question has two answers. The first is an obvious one: we want to help creators build a webshop on top of Mintbase easily, so artists are the first target group. They are the ones that are already present in the NFT space — musicians, artists, 3D artists, and ticket shops are easy to realize.
The second answer is not so obvious. I strongly believe that we will see in the future for every good a digital representation of ownership of the real-world good. Digital representations have a lot of advantages: for example, if I want to buy a diamond as a hedge against inflation, I have the problem that I perhaps don’t want to have them at home. A diamond can be costly. It would help if you had a vault at home, but that is also expensive.
So why not buy it and leave it in the seller’s vault? They are well prepared to take care of that. Okay, perhaps someone might rob the seller, but they also have insurance against this. So, if you have proof of ownership of the diamond, you’d get your money back.
Sure, for these ideas, there has to be a clear regulation on how to tie an NFT to a real good. But, hey, if we get our regulatory problems with the Defi-vaults solved, this will be easy. Another one: we’ll be a customer of ourselves. We’re building our Shop-Builder so that you can buy advanced themes for the shops as an NFT — not just the ones built by us.
Everyone who contributes a theme — not ready yet, but in research — can add a theme. We will make these themes choosable in our building procedure. And always, if the theme is used by a Gorilla Shops user, the contributor will be rewarded. And, as we use Mintbase, it will be easy to split these revenues between possible team members, the designers and the developers.
How do Gorilla shops connect to your other projects?
JS: As I mentioned above — we are also developing within the DeFi space. A page builder for an asset manager. If we have our regulatory difficulties solved, we want to provide additional themes for the page builder. Guess where you will be able to buy them? Okay, I know, that this comes with problems: Enzyme is on Ethereum and Polygon and you have your Theme NFT on Near. But, really: I solve one problem after another. And till today this has been working for me so this problem is a problem that we will solve later.
Our Product on Enzyme will get upgrades on our work on Mintbase and vice versa. For the Vault-Page-Builder, we developed a transaction layer that integrates a Fiat-Crypto-Bridge and has an advanced KYC-Process integrated. In later versions, we can provide this for Mintbase Shops as well.
Perhaps this sounds crazy at the moment as we see mainly artists on Mintbase. But, what if someone wants to sell a house tokenized as an NFT? You don’t think that is possible — let’s see what the future brings. But for that case KYC would not be that bad, don’t you think?
What’s on your roadmap for 2022?
JS: First, we launch our Beta. I won’t give an exact date now. This Beta will provide a blazing fast webshop (Thank you, GatsbyJS) — with a connected CMS that will let you customize your webshop — and from within, you will be able to mint your NFTs. You will be able to easily access your images or videos, or music via Cloudinary or from your computer or Unsplash. You will be able to write a blog, add an imprint, and so on.
In the second stage, we will implement additional themes and advanced features. Pasting a special NFT in your blog post, for example, advances the customization features. And we will be working on opening the theme development to the community by providing tutorials on how to add a theme and tokenize it so that it is possible to buy it via a Gorilla Shops Theme Shop.
In the third stage, we’ll enable (mostly developed already) the possibility to add more than one store to the shop pages. The more art shops we’ll see, the more it makes sense that a curator adds the best art shops to his digital gallery. He could get a share of the revenue for this service if an NFT is bought via his gallery from the artists. We will, at that point, also start integrating the possibility to add the transaction layer. We’ll have to this point in time the financial service provider license — so we could easily provide this service.
After that, let’s see! This is already much to do for us, but I am optimistic that we will get it done.
Thank you, Jakob! We can’t wait to see what’s next 🚀
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