How To Create a Successful Algorand NFT Project with Al Goanna
Next up in our series, How to Create a Successful Algorand NFT Project, CC Token spoke with Benji from Al Goanna, one of Algorand's most prominent projects. These Algorand loving reptiles have set a new benchmark for Algo NFTs, being the first NFT project to hit 1mA in volume. With countless impressive milestones, Benji and team continue to push the boundaries and be a true innovator in the space, all underlined by their mission to provide a positive impact through environmental initiatives.
Breaking into the NFT Space
Al Goanna Project Lead Benji first forayed into the crypto landscape in 2017 as a retail investor, immersing himself on the side as he worked as a creative full-time. It was only mid-2020 when he came across Algorand, fascinated by its environmentally-focused ethos, he started following it closely. Parallel to this, Bored Ape Yacht Club was coming onto the scene, also piquing his interest as the project aligned with his skillset. Algorand at the time had an emerging NFT scene, however Benji saw potential for a more streamlined and professional project approach.
In September 2020, Benji launched his first NFT project with zero preconceived knowledge of how it would perform. Within hours, it was clear that the sale was an enormous success, so much so that he would not be going back to work on Monday. At the timing of the launch, the wider NFT space was being lambasted for the impact on the environment, which inspired Benji to ensure the project had a bigger meaning. From that, the simple premise was born - for every NFT , one tree would be planted.
"I did one sale and was like well, I'm not going back to work on Monday and it has been crazy every since."
The Origin of Al Goanna
Many think that Al Goanna is a play on the word iguana, but in fact a Goanna is a native Australian lizard, similar to a monitor lizard. Benji developed a few characters using a Goanna as the foundation and felt that it naturally worked. Additionally, it was a fun way to incorporate Algorand into the character's name.
Sources of Inspiration
Benji maintains a pulse on the wider NFT ecosystem to get ideas for different traits and what the overall trends are. Only six months ago he said he knew almost every project on Algo, however now it's getting harder to keep up. Even though now it's beyond his grasp, Benji is excited to see the space growing so quickly. Specifically on Algorand, Yieldings and MNGOs have paved the way for Al Goanna to follow. In Benji's eyes, Stitch, the creator of Yieldings is the godfather of NFTs on Algorand - his contribution to the space is undeniable and on Discord discussions he is very articulate and has a well thought out point of view. Lastly, Benji also is a big fan of Block's work with Flemish Giants. Needless to say there are constantly more NFT projects on Algorand and beyond that are pushing the boundaries that provide inspiration.
This one was quite simple for Benji! He became an Algo maxi before being an NFT creator. Therefore, when he decided to foray into NFTs, it was a no-brainer to go with Algorand.
“It was a no-brainer to go with Algorand”
Doing Good: Plant a Tree Program
At the core of Al Goanna is their Plant a Tree program, for every NFT minted, a tree is planted. Since the project's launch where the initial goal was to plant 5,000 trees, the initiative has taken a life of its own now surpassing 45,000 trees. Realizing the Algorand community's appetite to support real world change, the project has transitioned into an environmental impact fund, the Gilbert Goanna Tree Planting Fund, dedicated to reforestation across the globe. Algorand’s first dedicated impact fund, over 200,000A has been raised since the program’s inception and has planted over 128,000 trees. The capital is raised via both donations and partnership initiatives such as NFT projects and then allocated to conservation efforts.
Utility of Owning an Al Goanna
The utility has evolved over time, with earlier collections providing access to members-only Discord channels, community giveaways, events and staking to receive airdrops. The strength of the Al Goanna community is an attestation to the innovative ways Benji brings people together with one example being a virtual Escape Room challenge attended by over 70 participants from the community. The utility has now expanded to include an array of benefits with the most notable addition being access to DAOs and governance voting.
Benji continues to impress the Algorand ecosystem through the innovative ways he brings Goanna holders together - the community was invited to participate in a seed round to raise funds and invest as a registered LLC to support Algorand start-ups. This demonstrates the collective positive impact possible with a group of passionate, engaged individuals. Expect the utility of owning an Al Goanna to only increase and amplify the Algorand ecosystem over time.
What's Next for Al Goanna?
Benji is currently working diligently behind the scenes on a new series, Mutant vs. Zombies. There is a whole story behind the series, with the genesis being a Mutant Ape was purchased on Ethereum and bridged to Algorand. The result, a series of stories within the Goannaverse circled around the Mutant Ape stuck in the Goanna Forest due to gas fees being too high to return to their native Ethereum. From this creative foundation, expect many extensions such as a video game and more. Looking ahead to the V2 release, Benji aims to take 25% of the proceeds and allocate it to a Goanna DAO treasury, hopefully setting a standard for other NFT projects.
Advice for artists breaking into the NFT space
Find a way to reward your community to ensure there is intrinsic value to be a part of it. From first-hand experience, Benji has attested his success to a bigger reason bringing the community together. Though it is ultimately crucial to have high-quality art as that is the first impression and attracts people, it is equally important to innovate and provide new experiences to continue to push the space forward.