The GiveTree Open Metaverse is a virtual game world built on top of a multi-chain NFT marketplace. The platform will empower creators and enable players to explore, own, buy, and sell digital assets while donating and making a real-world impact.
We sat down with Sam Joel, founder of GiveTree, and discussed driving meaningful impact through the metaverse. Here's the full interview.
What is GiveTree and how does it work?
GiveTree is an NFT marketplace and a virtual game that has been built on Unreal Engine. The idea is that a percentage of every transaction on the platform will go to an impact partner; which could be a charity, a DAO, or a profitable purpose group, and that will help to solve real-world problems.
So if the money goes to a charity, that will help finance a new project. And because it’s using Web3 Technology, it’s not just limited to traditional currency, but cryptocurrency as well, which is exciting.
How is the crowdfunding campaign going and when is the official launch of GiveTree?
Well, we spent about 6 hours filming the main pitch video for the crowdfunding campaign in front of a green screen, putting me in real life, and into the game we’ve built for GiveTree. Then I start the pitch video as a human in the game and then I turn into a 3D virtual avatar for the rest of the pitch.
It’s the first time that this type of pitch is done and we’re using a crowdfunding platform in Sydney called Birchal.com.
We’re launching the Expression of Interest campaign on March 8, which will run for 14 days, after which we’ll have the Offer campaign for another 14 days. And then we’ll launch the product in April.
What’s the story behind how GiveTree was created? What inspired this idea?
GiveTree was created roughly around three and a half years ago when I was sick and homeless, living in an internet cafe. I lived there for about 10 months, and during that time I was pretty reliant on charities. So I started with a simple charity directory, which has evolved quite a lot since then into managing all types of donations from one single platform. So basically, we can manage all the volunteering, the fundraising, and all the monetary donations from just one essential platform.
Over the last 3 and a half years, I’ve worked with over 100 charities, on a small, medium, and large scale. I looked over 30 different types of donations, and each type of donation has its own unique market. So late last year when I started looking at cryptocurrencies, NFT markets, and fundraising using Web3 technology, it was pretty clear that there was the least number of suppliers as far as the donation market is concerned, with the highest possible growth curb. The number of charities that accepted these types of donations was low as well.
So it was an easy choice for me to pivot into becoming Australia’s first NFT marketplace for good, driving social and real-world impact.
What does GiveTree’s metaverse world look like? Could you give us a little Behind-the-scenes look at how this game is being created?
The GiveTree world would consist of 13 trees of life, with the GiveTree right at the center, surrounded by other trees of life. Each of the trees draws inspiration from real-life mythology, having real-world folklore behind it.
It’s going to resonate with people because it’s old-school storytelling. For example, we have a ‘Lord of the Rings’ style tree and the Ash tree, taken from Viking mythology.
We’ve now got over 100 partners around the world — impact partners, Web3 Organizations, blockchains and sidechains, and wallets. Now it’s just a matter of working with some initial groups on the game and showing the world in April that the product is functional and it works as a new way of fundraising. So, we’re just going to scale the product now and then we’re good to go.
We love that you intend to give back to charities and use this virtual space for real-world good. Please tell us more about which causes you’re passionate about helping.
For me personally, it would be cool to solve homelessness on a small scale(initially) and prove that the housing model can be done more effectively rather than traditionally today.
People like Elon Musk prove to the world that better design goes a long way towards completely revolutionizing the entire industry and markets. So if we apply that same way of design thinking to solving the “homelessness problem’’ by taking the payment part out of the equation, we’re going to have a roadmap.
All of this is doable, but the only reason it’s not done is that nobody wants to pay for it. So GiveTree’s role here is to organize and redistribute resources more effectively, towards charitable organizations, purpose groups, etc, and also to give directly to projects.
Who are your impact partners at this time?
We’ve got local grassroots charities that help with problems such as suicide prevention, mental health, emergency housing for homelessness, removing plastic from waterways, harbors, and oceans. We’re also partnering with larger charities working on large-scale projects like land conservation.
And then we have very large charities such as WWF who are looking after the blue corridor and the aquatic life, protecting international waters, etc.
There is a diverse range of people and groups trying to solve such problems, giving opportunities to support a wide range of causes people care about. And if there are causes that you are passionate about and want to support, but are not on GiveTree, we invite you to sign up a charity.
There is no barrier to entry, it doesn’t cost for charities to come on board. You can just invite them to come.
Amidst all the metaverse hype and technology talk, do you see more companies working to use this space to make our real world better? Are more organizations and users viewing social impact as a top priority?
I think a lot of people would hope so. There are many indications that corporate groups want to be more socially responsible. For some of them, the motivation comes from good intentions, while for others it’s just coming out of necessity. Either way, the outcome is the same and they are wanting to be more responsible global citizens as the legal entities that they are.
What has the response been like so far? How do you keep your community engaged?
The response from our community and from outside has been great! As for keeping our community engaged, personal updates on our Discord server go a long way.
We like keeping it friendly and welcoming, and something as seemingly simple as human messages instead of robot responses can make a difference — whether it’s the first point of contact with a new community member or announcements.
What are your short-term and long-term targets? Could you give us a snapshot of your roadmap?
We’re going to launch the first version of the marketplace and the game in April.
For the marketplace, it’s important to show that you can sell NFTs and a percentage would go automatically to an impact partner — demonstrating that is the immediate priority. Once we show it works on one blockchain and one sidechain, then we can move to other blockchains and scale it a bit more.
On the game side, it’s about really showing what’s possible with an Unreal Engine environment, just how good it can look. We’re working with a few creators and charities to bring it to life, and showcase to the world what’s possible.
For the next 12 months, it is a lot about community building. We’ve just secured an investment, so we’re going to do a fundraising round, a crowdfunding round to make sure that we’ve got a runway for the next 12 months, which will enable us to scale a team, get the quality people we need to grow the product properly.
And of course, security is very important for us seeing how new marketplaces, in particular, are subject to a lot of attacks from hackers.
Where can our readers join your community and support you further in bringing this vision to life?
So when the crowdfunding opens, you can jump in there, and with $50 or more, you would be able to own GiveTree shares. We’ll never be doing a crowdfund again, so this is the only chance for people to join us this way. But then in the future, we will be launching a DAO, which would give everyone in the community a chance to own Tokens in the DAO.
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