In 2021, Patrick Tobler was studying computer science at the Stuttgart Media University when he heard that Cardano made the minting of NFTs possible on its blockchain. He wanted to mint an NFT and since he could not find a proper tool on the market, he developed a mint-on-demand tool within a week. What began as a quick side project grew into something much bigger: NMKR, the number one NFT minting- and payment tool on the Cardano blockchain today.
In the interview with S-GE, Patrick and Ann-Kristin, CFO of NMKR, speak about how NMKR is different from other NFT ecosystems, the motivation behind NMKR, and why they chose Switzerland as a business location.
What is NMKR's goal?
Patrick: NMKR was always about making the blockchain accessible to everyone. There are a lot of people and businesses that are interested in getting involved, but barely anyone knows how to use blockchain technology and build something on top of it. Our goal is to make the launching of NFTs possible for everyone.
What is your personal fascination with NFTs and blockchain technology?
Patrick: I am a computer scientist and have always been drawn to technology. NFTs are proof of ownership on the blockchain, which can enable many use cases. Currently, we see a lot of profile picture collections, but NFTs can be much more. They can represent any type of ownership, stored in a decentralized way.
Ann-Kristin: I entered the industry because blockchain- and NFT products are complex and not easy to understand. This is what makes it interesting to me. There is so much potential to use the blockchain for smart solutions and that is why I wanted to work in this business field.
What makes NMKR different from other NFT ecosystems?
Patrick: We focus on the user experience for both businesses (B2B) and the end-customers (B2C). Customers can launch their Web3 products in a white-label way with our APIs. Plus, we offer no-code building blocks like our payment checkout, which is similar to PayPal but intended for the purchase of NFTs by the end-customer. It is very important for us to make everything accessible to people who have never worked with a blockchain before and don’t own any crypto currencies. We want their onboarding to be as seamless as possible.
Who are your clients?
Patrick: Anyone who wants to build something on the blockchain can become a client. We see a lot of people from the art scene, but also from the start-up space and big corporates that are interested in using the blockchain or NFT technology to enhance their products. For example, our partner book.io launched eBooks as NFTs. Using our infrastructure, they can mint and sell thousands of NFTs a day, trade their eBooks on the secondary market and the authors can earn money with each trade. This is interesting from a usability perspective. NFTs are completely decentralized, and everyone truly owns their product.
Why did you choose the Cardano blockchain as platform for your business?
Patrick: I analyzed different blockchains for my Bachelor thesis and was always fascinated by Cardano. It has amazing technology, is ecofriendly and scalable. We have a close relationship with the Cardano Foundation, one of the founding entities behind Cardano, who are all located in Switzerland. We often talk to them and work closely with them to help onboard bigger companies into the Cardano ecosystem.
What is a challenge you faced as a start-up in the blockchain space?
Ann-Kristin: One of the main challenges we faced as a crypto start-up is opening a bank account. This is easy for non-crypto start-ups, but being in the crypto and NFT space, many banks are very risk averse. This was a big challenge, and it helped to be in Switzerland, where some banks already have experience with blockchain businesses.
Speaking of Switzerland, why did you set up your business here?
Ann-Kristin: When it comes to crypto and blockchain start-ups, we saw that regulations in Switzerland are more startup-friendly than in other countries. We also believe that Switzerland has an amazing ecosystem for crypto and blockchain start-ups. We’ve met so many other start-ups, angel investors and generally very smart people in the crypto space, which helps us to establish ourselves here. As a start-up, you want to make fast decisions. The easier the infrastructure, the better this works. Switzerland gives us a great infrastructure to act fast.
What role did S-GE play in establishing your business in Switzerland?
Patrick: We’ve had some very interesting conversations and a lot of guidance from S-GE. We are also looking at emerging markets where we want to expand and that is something that is extremely difficult for us because we don't have a network there yet. We rely on guidance and help and that is where S-GE comes in.
How would you describe the blockchain ecosystem in Switzerland?
Patrick: It is extremely vibrant. Switzerland is a country with many start-ups located in a relatively small geographical area. There is a big talent pool here and many industry events take place. Switzerland to me feels like the heart of crypto. It is a great location for everyone to launch their start-up.
What do you think is the future of the NFT market?
Ann-Kristin: That NFTs are increasingly used for real-world use-cases and smart solutions.
Patrick: The future of the NFT market is to connect the real world with blockchain technology and solve real problems.
If a blockchain business is looking for a new business location, what would your advice be?
Patrick: Choose wisely where you want to go. There are many options, but my advice would be to look closely at the requirements your blockchain company has. It is easy to be tempted to go to an offshore island, but it might not be the best solution. Ask yourself: Does the infrastructure in this country support my business? Switzerland is a very reasonable location with a big ecosystem not only in the NFT and crypto space, but other industries that tie into blockchain. It is one of the richest and most successful countries in the world, and I do believe this is very helpful for any startup.
You collaborated with award-winning creative designer Christian Etter to produce the NFT artwork Etter Edition 01. Can you tell us more about this?
Patrick: The Cardano Foundation introduced us to this project. They were in contact with Alexander Brunner, the president of Home of Blockchain. He knew this amazing artist, Christian Etter, who planned to make physical art pieces that change over time. The idea was to connect them to the blockchain as NFTs. When they are minted, it creates a singular seed that starts the algorithm in the microprocessors of each art piece. It is an incredibly interesting take on art, and we were immediately on board. We helped Christian Etter build the website, launch it and connect all the blockchain parts with the NFTs and sell it. We quickly saw that the target group was not our usual target group in the crypto scene. It spoke more to art collectors, so we focused on integrating credit card payments to make it as easy as possible for people who have never tried crypto before to buy one of these art pieces.
What are your next growth plans?
Patrick: Currently we focus on building out our products and making them as seamless as possible. The goal is that anyone can interact with the blockchain, that the process becomes so easy that users don’t even notice that they are interacting with it. We want to make the entry barrier for new users as low as possible and hopefully at one point, even my mother could be using blockchain and NFTs.