SpatialPort CEO and co-founder, Alex Bellesia, has had the metaverse on his mind for quite a while. In fact, as the former Chief Marketing Officer of a company specializing in VR and AR solutions for businesses, he remembers thinking about the possibilities of the space years before the term The Metaverse became as widespread as it is today.
“What we call today the metaverse, was just, “AR and VR”, like yesterday,” he says with a smile to start our interview.
Fast forward to today and Bellesia and his new company are pushing to be at the forefront of the emerging metaverse. However – and in contrast, perhaps, to a certain, freshly-rebranded tech conglomerate – the metaverse Bellesia hopes that SpatialPort can be part of, is a healthy and open one, driven by empowered users.
“I want to be part of this because it’s a huge responsibility. And I want to say I tried, and I did all I could.”*
*Some of the quotes from Mr. Bellesia have been condensed and edited for clarity.
How COVID-19 helped lead to the beginning of SpatialPort
During his stint at Qbit Technologies, Bellesia worked primarily with large companies to help them create virtual eCommerce stores. Then COVID-19 happened, causing more aspects of everyday life to shift online. At this point, Qbit started to get more inquiries from a different kind of clientele.
“Now not only were big multinationals reaching out to us, but also small and medium companies. And the price tag for eCommerce spaces was too high. It could go from $100,000 to up to $500,000 to create 3D immersive stores.”
Thus the seeds of SpatialPort were planted. Bellesia began to think of ways to provide similar services to smaller businesses and individuals at an affordable price point.
“And so I thought of what Shopify did back in 2006 when they built a configurator. Drag and drop, no code. And that is the key to our company. Empowering everybody out there to be able to create their own 3D space.”
Perhaps the market need for 3D online spaces wasn’t so clear right before the pandemic. But now that NFTs and the metaverse have become a trending topic in the cultural conversation? It surely is.
Sales of the SP21 MTVRSMaster NFTs will fund MTVRS development
While Bellesia and SpatialPort have many projects in the pipeline, their first priority is their eCommerce metaverse platform. And of course, the NFT sale funding its development.
To explain, SpatialPort will launch the presale for its SP21 MTVRSMaster NFTS on Jan. 24th. The 500 NFT presale allotment will sell at a mint price of 0.5 ETH, with the full public sale of the remaining 9600 NFTs happening at a later date. Bellesia says of using the NFT sale to fund SpatialPort’s “MTVRS” shopping app,
“It’s similar to ICOs. But instead of just the coin, we’re giving a product. We decided to do it this way because we needed $5 million to go to market. It’s a huge concept. So this is really a long-term project.”
Buyers will get a few perks along with their NFT. This includes a free store on SpatialPort’s platform, where they can show off their NFTs and sell other products.
Building a “Multiverse of Metaverses”
Indeed, SpatialPort’s vision is a huge concept. Bellesia talks of building an expansive virtual realm. One where brands don’t just occupy plots of land, but their own, fully realized worlds.
“When you build a lot of 3D spaces for events, and E-commerce, you understand how powerful 3D design is to express brand personality. So why should Gucci’s metaverse be like Prada’s? Even the laws of physics inside Gucci’s metaverse might be different from the laws of physics that Prada or Nike wants. So we are envisioning this multiverse rather than a metaverse – a metaverse for each brand.”
Given the scope of SpatialPort’s plans, I asked Bellesia why he decided to fund SpatialPort’s platform through an NFT sale, as opposed to a more traditional VC funding model.
“The idea is to tap into the market and ask the people to help us out to make this happen. Rather than go straight to VCs. We will eventually go to VCs, for sure. But this is a way to be more free at this stage.”
Bellesia sees Ecommerce as a gateway to the metaverse
Besides his eCommerce background, Bellesia sees good reason for using that field as the seed for SpatialPort’s grander vision.
After all, the demand from brands to provide virtual experiences for consumers is high. And to Bellesia, that makes creating those experiences an ideal entry point for SpatialPort. In other words, eCommerce and virtual experiences for luxury brands are a start, but they’re not the whole picture.
To illustrate, one of the ideas Bellesia is most passionate about is making tools for individuals. Thus, SpatialPort hopes to help them take part in the growing metaverse and the economies that will come with it.
“I thought, well if we have the tool, why just give it to brands, let’s give it to everybody.”
In this way, Bellesia hopes that SpatialPort can help shape the future of the metaverse for the better. And that comes with taking note of the pitfalls of some of the platforms on which we spend so much of our time today. Platforms where people congregate in spaces controlled by a small number of large companies.
“Think about how AI is shaping how people think inside social media, where it’s 2D. Now imagine when it’s VR and AR. Then AI could even change the environment around us. So there is this scary potential future, but we don’t want that. We want something good.”
Freeing the metaverse from the hands of big corporations
If Bellesia’s approach sounds like a marked contrast to current major platforms, that’s by design. For one thing, there’s the tagline on SpatialPort’s homepage. It reads, “Join the movement to free the metaverse from the hands of big corporations”.
And if that’s still too subtle, Bellesia calls out one specific company by name. Making the following statement in the press release for the SP21 NFTs, he says,
“Our community of artists, brands, and investors will create the best independent multiverse alternative to Meta in the market, thanks to the funding that we anticipate generating through the sale of the NFTs.”
Needless to say, challenging one of the largest companies in the world is no small feat. But it’s one that Bellesia and SpatialPort are pursuing all the same. To be sure, he sees the early development of SpatialPort’s platform as the first step towards that ultimate goal.
“I’m trying to build something big here. If we want to compete against Meta, how are you going to do that with $5 million? It would be crazy. Even the game, Grand Theft Auto, cost around $280 million. But that’s the quality we’re aiming at.”
A strong team and community are the keys to executing SpatialPort’s ambitious vision
All in all, as lofty as these goals may sound, SpatialPort has certainly crafted a team that is up to the challenge. As a matter of fact, members of the SpatialPort core team have a number of high-profile companies on their resumes. To list a few, there’s Activision Blizzard, Unity Technologies, Google, PwC, Uber, and Facebook.
Flexing a wealth of experience would be one great reason to make his team public. Yet the main reason behind it was to address one of the biggest problems in the NFT space. Namely, how to assure a community that they are investing in a real team. Something that many people, including Bellesia, have noted is hard to do when a team is anonymous.
“I showed the faces of the team on our website on purpose. Because, at that point, our reputation is at stake. You can f*** up a company as avatars and nicknames. But if your entire life and career are up there? You’ve got to make sure to make it happen.”
Finally, Bellesia is keen on building more than just a metaverse. That is to say, SpatialPort’s growing community is another thing giving him confidence. Like many people who have taken to Web3 early, he sees strong communities as the space’s backbone.
“The community is the difference between Web2 companies and Web3 companies. It is all about the people. They are your customer base, your users, your friends – they are everything. And it’s incredible what you can do with just a community of people that gets together and pushes for an objective. When you need to move big projects like these, it’s awesome.
We are living in exciting times.”
Curious about “The Metaverse” and why you should care about it? Check out NFT Evening’s awesome beginner guide on it here.