Matthew Larby is the founder and CEO of Realm, a blockchain metaverse ecosystem where you can create and explore your own play to earn microverse. In this episode, Matthew and I talk through how the Realm experience works, how to make the metaverse more accessible, transitioning from a web2 founder to a web3 founder, building a seed round in advance of Realm’s IDO (initial DEX offering), and a little known fact about his love for competing.
This episode of MoneyNeverSleeps is sponsored by Philip Lee, one of Ireland’s fastest-growing corporate law firms and expert advisors at the heart of the Dublin and London start-up, fintech and crypto communities.
Matthew Larby on what Realm is all about:
“Realm is a metaverse that consists of lots of ‘microverses’, or small realms that people can create. Inside those realms, they can do everything from a virtual event, a racing microgame, open e-commerce stores, sell NFT assets, et cetera.
“It's built as a mobile application that we call a social metaverse, and there’s a social app layer with newsfeeds, profiles and other features similar to what you would find in any social app. When you dig deeper and tap on certain items that would appear in a newsfeed, the app takes you to the metaverse at that space.”
Matthew Larby on the idea behind building Realm:
“We [Realm’s three founders] thought what was going on with Decentraland and Cryptovoxels was cool, but they weren’t really mainstream consumable experiences. We started doing a SWOT analysis on these metaverses and then when we looked at that to decide what we wanted to design, we couldn't remotely agree on anything.
“So, we said, well, if we can't agree on what we would like to build, probably there are a lot of people that have dreams about things that they want to build. So maybe the idea is actually to augment that for them and give them tools that simplify it. Then we started working out how to bring the barriers down for people to get into the metaverse.”
Matthew Larby on the most important thing that he and his co-founders focused on with the design of Realm:
“What we realized was bizarre - it felt quite lonely in the early days in Decentraland and places like that. It's a large space and there weren’t many people in there. It felt like you were walking around a ghost town and occasionally you would stumble into something.
“So as a foundation, we focused on getting an atmosphere which felt like it was alive. Then we thought about making the experience feel even more alive, bridging the gap between the physical and the digital worlds, and augmented reality is a good technology for that.”
Matthew Larby on how Realm deals with one of the common pitfalls of metaverses:
“The metaverse is essentially a sandbox trying to create aspects of human society. You're thinking about better ways to do things like not having these government rules and taxes and related things. If we've got a proper sandbox, what's the solution you come up with for that?
“In most cases, a lot of these metaverses are coming towards the same kind of ideas, and that also has a bad side. If we take, for instance, the way land is dealt with in most metaverses, we've just recreated the same land system that we had before, where rich people can purchase lots of land. They took the risk with what might be a small amount of their capital, they ended up with all the land and then they can sell it for a large amount afterward – it creates artificial scarcity.
“So, we approached it on a dual land structure. There's a city where you can buy the land and then there are realms which anyone can make. We’ll rank a popular realm just the same as if it had a land parcel and we’ll direct a lot of footfall there.”
Matthew Larby on his transition from being a web2 founder to a web3 founder:
“I see some massive benefits - access to capital is quick, access to liquidity for investors or team members is possible at the end of the vesting period. I think this is a better deal and more attractive overall when you're hiring.
“One of the challenges is that you're trying to attract talent from multiple time zones – we’ve got people all throughout Europe, Iran, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, and then our investors are everywhere from Australia through to China. So, time-wise, it's quite demanding.
“Once you launch your token, a large percentage of your time goes towards monitoring marketing, understanding sentiment in the community, and there’s always a new fire to put out. So, you've really got to ramp up much quicker than anything I've seen, but you do have the capital to do it.
“In a web2 startup, you might spend 40% of your revenue on advertising costs because you're a SaaS business or something like that. With web3, you’re looking into how you can organically interact with and engage the community to do that marketing for you. You can see crazy amounts, like thousands, every day turning into groups of users in your community, and it’s quite exciting.”
Matthew Larby on building out a seed round in advance of their IDO (Initial DEX Offering):
“We focused on the basics first, like just building out a really nice deck and some prototypes. With investors, you want a range of different funds from different geographies across Europe, the US and Asia where there's a massive market. We also have a bunch of different founders who have invested and they’re really useful because they give you a completely different perspective.
“It's quite good to have that balanced viewpoint [from other founders] - they're coming from one direction and see something slightly differently than you. They’re also thinking about what's occurring operationally inside the business and they're like, ‘Hey, don't run into these pitfalls.’”
Episode title inspired by Step into the Realm by the Roots
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