Ukrainian collective NFT raises funds to fight Russia

Ukrainian founder Maksym Petruk knows he wouldn’t set much store by a soldier – so his way of helping his country’s defense against Russia is by selling a bundle of NFTs, the digital answer to collectibles.

“We decided to join the war by the means of Web3,” Petruk told guests at an immersive online event recently.

The public had gathered to hear about the launch of the Crypto Cossacks Club, a collection of NFTs now selling around €330 per pop to crypto enthusiasts.

Half of the revenue from this art will go to the war effort, in particular by paying for the demining of the country. “We are probably the most mined country in the world right now,” says Petruk, who is also CEO and founder of software company WeSoftYou.

The digital designs, which depict various characters, are deliberately patriotic. “They are fearless warriors fused with tech geeks – or Ukrainians, in other words,” Petruk explained. His personal NFT shows a character holding a kobza, a musical instrument that looks a bit like a lute (Petruk used to play in a punk band).

NFT by Maksym Petruk

The artist behind the Crypto Cossacks, Ukrainian developer Yana Mitlitska, says she wanted the images to be “bright, courageous and progressive”.

The collection will grow over time to include “Russian antagonists”, says Petruk. “We think we have drunk Russian bears.”

Zelensky’s wager

Crypto accounts for a small fraction – around $60 million – of the aid received by Ukraine to date. The government, which needs money fast and doesn’t care what channel it goes through or who sends it, is accepting donations of bitcoin, ether, and more than 10 more rooms.

Petruk is not the first person to dream up an NFT project to raise emergency funds. In March, UkraineDAO, a London-based “crypto collective,” auctioned digital ukrainian flag for $6.5 million worth of ether. The DAO promised to spend the money on humanitarian aid.

It’s hard to predict how the Crypto Cossacks will fare, amid signs that the initial NFT euphoria fades and demand stagnates. In this highly speculative sector, which plagued by gimmicks and scamscollectibles could end up like any other in a long line of duds.

And yet, Petruk’s team thinks they have a trick up their sleeve: they’ve created 50 images to give away to very famous people like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and billionaire Elon Musk (plus Dude, Where’s My Car? actor Ashton Kutcher for good measure).

Because NFTs are a market that lives and dies on hype, if any of these influencers mention the Cossacks online, the project could fizzle out.

The Elon Musk NFT

The Musk NFT has some telltale features: Twitter’s mascot bird, a Doge resting on his shoulder [Musk is a big fan of dogecoin, the cryptocurrency] and a SpaceX rocket. NFT Musk also has alien features. “People are still guessing whether he’s human or not,” says Petruk.

Everyone in the Metaverse! (kind of)

On the night of his NFT launch two weeks ago, Petruk smiled shyly on screen in front of around 60 guests. “It’s really weird,” he said.

The event, which transported attendees to a stylish club, was hosted by Ukrainian virtual party platform Party.Space.

The platform’s founder, Yurii Filipchuk, spent eight days in a row last month in his basement, located 10 km from Bucha, a kyiv suburb where retreating Russian soldiers left dozens of civilians dead. As the bombs fell nearby, he cradled his baby and desperately tried to keep his business alive.

“Now we are doing more and more events every week,” says Filipchuk, who has since moved to a quieter part of the country. “We allow NFT collectors to show their art in a meaningful way. People are tired of hanging out on Discord and Zoom.

Although the Metaverse doesn’t really exist yet – forget spin marketing, it’s an idea that’s still coming out piece by piece – Party.Space is an immersive world-builder that has successfully tapped into the recent buzz of the Metaverse (the society sometimes calls itself a “microverse”).

Schmoozing at the metaverse - or microverse - bar
Schmoozing at the metaverse – or microverse – bar

With his team, Filipchuk has created 15 virtual rooms so far (the most popular is Dogetemple, described as “an awesome microverse dedicated to meme star Doge”), which can be rented for $25 per visitor for lectures. , end- of year-end parties, team building events and workshops.

Event housekeeping is a bit different in the metaverse/microverse, where the host had to give guests tips on how to get around, sit on chairs and sofas, and network.

“You need to click on the sofa to be able to sit on it,” Petruk advised his guests at one point. This being the metaverse-lite, it’s also a nice environment for people who like to disappear from a party without saying a word. One click, or the snap of your laptop, and you’re away.

“We will rebuild”

In the real world, things are looking a bit more optimistic in the country than a month ago. The army withstood the Russian onslaught in key towns, leaving some Ukrainians to consider returning home.

Yet few see a quick end to the invasion. “It could be a frozen or stagnant war for years, which is not good for the economy. And yet we will live next door [millions of] people who have been super brainwashed [living in Russia]explains Petruk.

In the longer term, it is more positive about the result. “We are going to rebuild everything. Ukraine will become the capital of freedom and creative people from all over the world will want to build something here.

Eanna Kelly is an editor at Sifted. He tweets from @EannaKelly1

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