Transcription Episode 68

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of Living on Blockchain. Today we are speaking to Corey Wilton. He is the co-founder of Mirai Labs.

Mirai Labs is a gaming company that has become very well known in the gaming community since 2021 with the release of their game Pegaxy on Polygon. Mirai Labs had really seen great success with that particular game with over 500k users and 200 million on in-game assets being traded natively. To date Pegaxi is one of the earliest and largest games to launch on Polygon.

In addition to his work with Mirai Labs, Corey is also the co-founder of TacToys, which is one of Australia’s largest toy gun stores. And he had earlier also worked on a health test startup for providing customer support services for Web3 startups. And he’s basically been on both sides.

He’s done work in Web2 as well as in Web3. He is dealing with e-commerce as well. So this was a very interesting conversation which would really help entrepreneurs who are building in this space to gain perspective, to do things perhaps the right way.

And I can’t wait for you guys to hear this. So let’s deep dive right in. Hi Corey, thank you so much for making the time to speak to me today.

How are you doing? I’m great. I’m great. Thank you so much.

I appreciate it. Awesome. So can you tell us, for our listeners, can you tell us a little about how you got into Web3? And can you also take us back to the early days of Mirai Labs? For sure.

Web3 for me was more like a friend introduction. They just said to buy Ripple. So I bought Ripple back in 2017 and sold just before it pumped.

So that should have been a red flag for me that I’m not made for this space, but that’s all right. I stayed anyway. And from there, honestly, it was just like curiosity throughout there.

And in 2018, I started my first company in crypto. That was a customer support company for ICOs. ICOs were obviously really, really popular back then.

So just dove in and that went quite well. And then I took like a bit of a detour into e-commerce. We started Australia’s largest toy gun store back in 2019, and that’s still around today, but came back into the space in the end of 2020.

And that’s where Mirai did come from. So I did see like NFTs or the talk of NFTs around the end of 2020, I think it was. And then from there, dove in headfirst and Mirai would have, I would say Mirai started moving properly around the early stages of 2021, like April around there.

And it was just me and my co-founder and we came up with the idea, saw the market opportunity and executed. The rest is history basically. Awesome.

You know, you’re one of the oldest gaming studios and that has run really far and that has sustained over time. Can you tell us a little more about the initial games? I think, you know, you’re one of the earliest successes that you saw was a game called Pegaxy, if I’m not wrong. Can you tell us a little about that? For sure.

For sure. Yeah. So that was kind of like what I was mentioning earlier regarding like market opportunity in 20, end of 2020, I was playing a game called F1 Delta Time by Animoca.

It’s not around anymore, but really, really inspired me. And it was early stages and I could see a lot of opportunity that they just weren’t taking advantage of. So that kind of piqued my interest.

And then I realized back then it really wasn’t that popular, but Axie Infinity was becoming popular. And there was clearly a system, which was the scholarship system at the time that was, I guess, an opportunity for a lot of people and a really, really good user acquisition tool as well. And then we looked at Zed Run and we felt that we could build that.

So one thing led to another, we decided to build an early stage game called Pegaxy Galaxy. And that ended up being a 2D horse racing game that we bootstrapped out of about four people. Just myself being non-technical, I basically contributed nothing to the build.

And then we bootstrapped that. Your share came after that. Yeah.

My part came from like the go to market. That’s right. Yeah.

So like speaking to the investors and stuff and in October, I think it was October, 2021, we did a fundraise led by And the week after that, we did an NFT sale. Then we did the token launch the week after that. And then we released the game the week after that.

So it was just like back to back chaos during that period, to be honest with you. But yeah, as you mentioned, I think from memory, we had the second largest game in the Philippines in 2022 for Web3. Just behind Axie Infinity, we had about $200 million go through the platform within the first probably like six months or something like that.

Half a million users. It was really, really chaos from that point. And we didn’t really get the opportunity to build the game, but the reality was at that time, nobody really cared about the game so much.

They more wanted to play with the money. So that’s kind of what we catered for. Right.

Absolutely. So, you know, it had a significant impact on the Polygon ecosystem as well, right? Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah.

So I would say at that time, there was no games on Polygon. It was actually had been on Ronin. They had launched Ronin back then and or at least just recently migrated at the minimum.

And then we just saw Polygon and we decided to launch there. And I would say a vast majority of that money was brought from Ronin directly to Polygon because we almost hand on boarded 50 percent of those people in the first two months without customer support. We had to walk through MetaMask, had to do everything, make tutorials, videos, all of it.

So, yeah, I would say looking back, we probably on boarded a couple of hundred thousand people into Polygon. Oh, wonderful. That is that is massive.

Absolutely. So can you tell us a little about, you know, your secret sauce then? How did you really do the go to market and, you know, acquire all of these users? Because nowadays, I think most Web3 startups and platforms have an adoption problem. They’re not able to acquire users with really fantastic solutions, but the users are just not there.

So what did you guys do there to, you know, do this a little differently? Yeah, I think we went really, really different, actually. Fully bootstrap type energy. So there’s a couple areas.

And one of the areas was the fact that we innovated. So the scholarship system, which was that was created from a community member, kind of recognizing a loophole through Axie’s system, where if you don’t give them the access to the wallet, but you do give them the lock, the login to the account inside the game, they can play the game and not steal your assets. That was kind of the loophole that people discovered, but it created, you know, you needed to pay out these scholars manually.

And if you had a thousand scholars manually pay out a thousand scholars, just a problematic type system, right? You can’t scale. So I just sat down and I was looking at, I was speaking to my CTO, sorry, and just thought, why don’t we just make an escrow? Why don’t we put this all in chain, automate it, allow them to scale? Because it’s clearly something that they want. And I asked him, can we build it? He said, absolutely, we can.

And that’s really fundamentally beyond, like, another thing that I’ll mention here, that would have driven the growth after we had the initial stage attention. The initial stage attention actually came from another strategy, which was looking at what was happening in the market at the time. There was no real media source and I didn’t want to pay for media being a startup, right? I don’t want to go to Cointelegraph or whoever when I have no money.

So I just decided to build something called P2E News, which is just everything play to earn. And I posted everything organically, new games, Axie Infinity, all of it, right? And then from there, it started growing. We’re getting about five to 10 million impressions a month.

And when we were close to launch, I decided to naturally speak about the benefits of Pegasy as well. And I ended up just exiting the P2E News website after we had launched Pegasy because we didn’t really need it at that point. However, I would say that was critical to our go-to market, being able to capture our perfect audience, the exact users that we wanted and control the narrative without having anything out of pocket.

Just think that’s what a lot of studios don’t think about. If you do a fundraise early, you don’t realize that you probably should be in the trenches. And we just decided that independent of the fundraise, we were going to be in the trenches.

And we decided to build P2E News obviously before we did our fundraise. So throughout that period of building Pegasy version one, we were building P2E News at the same time just so that we had leverage when we did go to market. That’s about it.

Yeah, that sounds wonderful. I think you guys really thought about having a ready-made community, right? When you launch, you already have a bunch of users that you can leverage. And that is wonderful because you need to have that kind of foresight.

I love what you mentioned about despite or in spite the fundraise, you still wanted to be hands-on and you wanted to keep your hands dirty and keep working from the ground up. And that is something a lot of founders tend to forget. They come into some money and they raise money and then that becomes like their non-star success metric.

And they forget about the other parts because this is something I talk a lot about and I keep telling everybody about that if you’re building a business, ultimately you’re building it so that you can perhaps monetize it. And to monetize it, you need to have users be using it, right? And in whatever way possible. So that needs to be your non-star metric, nothing else.

Everything else is just vanity. Absolutely. I agree with you there.

Yeah, exactly. And founders need to be very hands-on and they need to be down in the trenches to make sure that they are at least until the point, they find a PMF and you really need to be very hands-on. Otherwise, the story really gets away from you and the plot gets away from you very, very fast, I think.

I agree. I think it’s important. Maybe a traditional business versus a game studio is quite different because in many cases, I guess a game studio is more like a company that is creating an innovation that’s never been seen before because we don’t have the ability to test our product until it’s built.

That’s just a very weird scenario. For example, in e-commerce, the product that you want to sell independent of how you’re going to brand it, you can get one of them or even create a website and sell them just to test how much it’s going to cost to acquire a customer. But how could I do that with a game, right? You really, really, really need to bootstrap in a game studio.

And I think that was just something that we recognized early that no matter what happens here, the money is going to be the Achilles heel as it is to most people. And if we don’t bootstrap, if we don’t just get scrappy with it all and make money anyway possible in the early stages, it might be the death of us. And we were just blessed to be able to recognize opportunity, move quickly, stay nimble as a company still till today.

And I think that’s why we constantly are at the forefront of innovation, at least on the Web3 side. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

I think this is wonderful to hear from fellow builders, somebody who resonates with this thought process. I think a lot of people resonate with the thought process, but very few execute it. So it’s wonderful to see that you guys are actually executing it correctly.

And a more part of you, you guys have always been at the forefront, as you said, of innovation and Web3. And I’m very excited to see what you guys do next. But let’s take another step back perhaps.

And I would love to understand what is your process? You’re a gaming studio ultimately. So how do you decide which idea to perhaps take forward? And how large is your team? And usually, what are the kind of milestones that you have in terms of creating new games? Do you have an all-star metric vis-a-vis the creation of new games as well every quarter? Yeah. So I guess the way that I would put the goals and the metrics and decision-making of the company in general, when it comes to types of games or what we’re going to build, it just purely would come down to passion.

That’s of the foundational game, meaning like the thing that we ship and put into the app stores, right? We look at what’s worked in the past and what we love and what we think we can execute, right? And from there, we obviously have to decide where Web3 comes into that. And to be totally honest with you, for the last 12 months, it’s been a very, very big, what should we do type scenario. That’s just the reality of it.

Because we have a really, really solid foundation of a game and we’re really proud of it. However, there was no clear thing that’s working in Web3 in the last 12 months for gaming studios. That’s just the reality of it.

Once Play2Earn ended, no one, not a single person had innovated in a way that seemed interesting and had the movements that old Play2Earn system had, had the energy that it had, right? So sure, there’s been big launches, people talking about it, AAA games and all that, but that generally got on his attention anyway. We just wanted to really build something that actually created energy. And that’s kind of what we discovered about three months ago and went into the trenches beyond what we’ve ever done before and just completely shipped on another level and only just released it.

And like I mentioned to you before the call, soft launch, I should say, apologies. So we just released it in the soft launch with plenty of bugs, but yeah. And at the current stage of the studio, we’re at about 80 staff at the moment.

And I would say 60 of them are in Vietnam. We have about three offices over here in Vietnam, the top middle and the bottom. Okay.

Brilliant. So in terms of like the next big milestone, perhaps for you guys, what would you say it would be? Yeah. After this, since we have launched what we’re calling Guild Tech, which is like a protocol layer underneath just a traditional game, which is essentially like a monetization tool for games that can leverage web three.

Our mission here is just to prove its point. The fact that it can actually work, that it does work and that the flywheel that we had imagined for it does exist. So for us, the next stage is over the next three months is really just refine, optimize, execute and try to scale and obviously ship a profitable game.

So I obviously think that we have the potential there to do it, but it just comes down to the reality that we shipped last week and there’s a lot of bugs. So I don’t know what the future holds, but we think it’ll be good. Yeah, absolutely.

I think any product during the soft launch time, I think ideally they should always have bugs because otherwise, you know, you’re launching too late, right? That’s exactly what you just said is exactly what our CTO said. We’re having like a review call of our launch and he’s like, listen, if there was no bugs, we’re way too late. And I was like, yeah, that is perfect.

Exactly. Let’s just go out and build things. And, you know, if you’re going to be building things, obviously there’ll be bugs and there’s no shame with that.

I think it’s wonderful what you guys are doing once again. So, you know, again, this is something that I’m very curious about. So, you know, you’re making all of these different games, right? And you are integrating Web3 technologies into gaming.

So how do tokenomics and, you know, the decentralized tech kind of integrate into the design and user experience of all of these games? Is the tokenomics designed differently for each individual game? How does that work? Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think this is more so like what guild tech is. It’s a really, really novel route around tokenization and monetization.

So obviously in the traditional model, you had native tokens, usually two tokens, where you have a governance token and a reward token. So the user will get the reward token, like in our case, it was a VIS token, and then they just cash it out. So we obviously recognize that that system doesn’t work.

And even just having native tokens inside the game economy is, I think, fundamentally flawed because players need someone to control every aspect of the game. And giving away control to the in-game economy is exactly the opposite of what makes a game good. So in our opinion, like using the created currency as an in-game main currency is just not the way forward.

So we looked at that and we were like, all right, what systems within Web3 right now are like a game and are monetizing well and can be adopted? And we just looked at Friendtech at the time. And sure, I think most people from the outside in knew that Friendtech is not going to overtake Twitter. That’s the reality of it.

Not only fans or whatever you want to compare it to, but at a foundational level, the loop that it had created was really interesting. And the DJs loved it, right? And they just want to come along. They want to speculate and it generates revenue for a specific party.

And I was like, all right, I literally wrote down on a piece of paper, Friendtech in games. And what does that look like? And then same session, I was writing down the flow on a piece of paper and I looked at it and I was like, holy something. I was like, this is something serious and I think that we should pursue it.

So when we adopted it into the game, it was pretty simple. And it looks like an eSports system. So what happens is that someone, what we’re calling a guild founder, will come into the game and they’ll create a team.

And in this scenario, they’re obviously putting their team together. They’ve got players, a maximum of 50 players in their team, and they’re striving to achieve the number one position. However, we introduced supporters on the outside, essentially speculators, who can buy fractions of their team.

And it’s similar to Keys and Friendtech. The more supporters you have, the more fractions you will sell, the higher those fractions will go up in price. But people can buy and sell these fractions.

So every time someone buys and sell these fractions, the guild or the team is earning revenue. So we’ve essentially built a business model for these founders, these guild founders, to go out there and make their guild popular, like they do in eSports, make their team popular and get people to support them, to buy their fractions and generate revenue. That revenue, they can do whatever they want with it.

Inside the game, we allow them to control the distribution of revenue so they can choose 20% to themselves and give back 20% to the fraction holders for supporting them, and then give 60% to their players. And their players earn out of that 60% based on their performance, so how much they contributed to the guild. So we just created this really positive flywheel where people from the outside are able to participate within the gaming ecosystem.

It generates a lot of revenue like it in Friendtech. They generated just for Friendtech alone, the company, $30 million or more in revenue. And as a company, Mirai, the one who created the game, we take 10% of all of the game’s revenue and put it back up onto the global leaderboard, which is what those teams are fighting for.

So it just makes a really nice flywheel. Essentially, this is decentralized eSports on a really competitive level, and they all own their team and they need to go out there and promote it. Really interesting dynamic, and none of it involves native tokens.

This is all using ETH. So there’s no dependence on token prices. There’s no liquidity issues.

It just purely depends on ETH, and we thought that that would be something insane that the industry has never seen. It’s literally never been done before, so we don’t know if it will work, but early signals suggest that it does. Yeah, I think that’s wonderful, and especially because there’s no native token involved.

I think that becomes an entirely different aspect of your business that you need to manage. It becomes a full-time job, managing all of the tokens if you’re issuing tokens. But if you’re going with an OG token, as you said, you’re using ETH for your ecosystem, then at least that is a big weight off your shoulders, I feel, because I’ve been there, I’ve launched tokens, I’ve shut down tokens, and it is a massive undertaking.

And extremely expensive for a startup, should we be honest here. Very, very expensive. It’s too much money, right? You’re parking too much money for liquidity, you’re parking too much money with the market maker and whatnot, and it’s just very difficult.

You need to have perhaps then one individual who’s just perhaps in charge of the token. That is what my experience tells me, because otherwise, you cannot possibly be looking at the product or the operations. It can’t be the CEO or the CEO looking after it, there needs to be a chief token officer who needs to perhaps take care of the token and all aspects that are related to that.

And that is itself very huge. So I love this take. This is a very refreshing take.

I’ve seen it with a few more founders that I’ve spoken to that they’re trying to use ETH or they would be using like a, you know, OG token, perhaps in their ecosystem and not issuing a native token themselves, which is absolutely wonderful to see. Because, you know, there were too many tokens anyway, that were being released that had no real utility. So this is wonderful and very refreshing as a take from you guys.

Can you tell me a little about, you know, whether you’re trying to perhaps raise funds and how you’re going about doing that? Because usually what happens is people are not issuing their own token. Then, you know, the fundraise has to happen by other methods and perhaps not through a soft, maybe a safe. Is that something that you’re looking at? Are you raising currently? So we will raise.

Absolutely. I think on the back of momentum, that would be silly not to. And to be to be clear, I think that there is still within the gaming ecosystem or the game specifically, I still think there is value in having its own token.

I just don’t think that it should be directly incorporated in the game’s economy, meaning that the game developer has no control over it because that means that we will still get blamed when there’s nothing we can do. You know what I mean? So exactly, exactly. Yeah.

You know, definitely it is perhaps important at scale for some games to have like a token, a native token themselves. But when you do, you’re just starting off and you’re trying to perhaps get your footing on the ground, having your token and having like a huge factor which you can’t control is never a good thing. Correct? I agree.

I mean, it’s just what we’ve developed here is essentially a model where any studio, big or small, can come in. They can use our SDKs. They can launch on our chain, which doesn’t mean they don’t need to do anything essentially.

And they can go and play like launch their game, do whatever. They don’t need to convince their users to do anything, buy tokens. They don’t need any of that stuff.

Right. But it does also open the doors to an instantly profitable company or at least one that generates revenue because ETH or, you know, it’s essentially US dollar. There’s so much liquidity.

You’re not getting revenue in your native token or anything like that. Where I see value in any game’s token is that once they do reach a point of traction, people are going to want to have a say. And you can do that through staking methods, through governance, and get them way, way, way more involved.

In reality, what tokens are an extremely, extremely powerful retention tool. And we can’t overlook that. Definitely cannot overlook that.

So as a studio, I would say don’t rule it out. If you’re not familiar with managing a token or what’s involved, I mean, definitely ask someone, try to ask someone because I know that both of you and me know how annoying and crazy it is to work with market makers, live tokens and stuff. It’s not even funny how scary it is.

And yeah, I just… Scary is the right word actually. It is scary, you know, especially for somebody who’s perhaps dealing with it for the first time. It’s really, really scary.

And then, you know, okay, you know, you’ve been around and you’ve seen, you know, these dealings, then at least, you know, perhaps the fear is out, but then there is… It’s just so much. It’s like a huge additional pressure on you. And, you know, it’s not just liquidity being tied up, but it can be complicated because, you know, of all the quantum mechanism perhaps that they’re using.

So you need to want to understand that as well. So then there’s a learning curve there. It’s just a lot, I think.

Yeah. It is. It is a lot.

And I mean, when you say scary, I mean, I think we’re the perfect scenario here. We went, the token went 100x. We had 20 million in daily liquidity.

We didn’t even touch a centralized exchange. We just stayed on a singular DEX. We didn’t even spread out the liquidity.

We just stayed on a singular DEX, integrated it into the game and kept it there because we just did not want to mess around with anything like that, make it complex, you know. So I’m not sure if that was a mistake looking back, but at least for us, we just like to keep it simple and not mess with it too much. Yeah, no, that makes sense.

That makes absolutely a lot of sense, I think, to take this route rather than the so-called traditional one or the one that everybody seems to be taking. So obviously, you know, your studio has a diverse range of projects, right? There is a group swap and there are other, you know, projects as well. So how do you perhaps, how do these different projects complement each other and what unique experiences do they offer to users? Like there is, I think, you know, you also have something called a Bitopia app and apart from Pegaxy and Group Swap and whatnot.

So these are all different standalone projects perhaps. So how do they complement each other and what is the USP for the user? Yeah, I think this is probably what you’re speaking about here is the children of our CTO. He has an insane mind and he continues to ship some pretty insane Web3 tools.

So Petopia is the game that we just released and then we have something called Mirai app, which is essentially the complementary NPC wallet, app store, all-in-one type situation that we’ve got also fully live in the app stores and everything else on the backend is essentially complementing it. So we have something called Mirai ID, a whole bunch of different stuff. So Mirai ID is essentially like a authentication tool, which allows users to use any login service.

And once they do log in, that gives them a wallet and Web3, everything on the backend. However, what we’ve done is taken it a step further and allow them to use Mirai ID across all of our products. So no matter what product that you use, if they log into Petopia, for example, with the same email, their wallet is connected instantly to Mirai app, meaning that if they do a transaction in Petopia, that’s on chain, it just prompts Mirai app through deep link and instantly pops up.

They accept it and it goes back. It’s all on chain, but it’s like they’re doing nothing extra because it’s all automatic. So the NPC wallet is very, very similar to what Binance just launched their Web3 wallet.

Just a secure, has a lot of dApps, fully EVM compatible. We have essentially every single dApp possible in there and it is designed to complement all mobile games. So Web3 mobile games, I should say.

So that’s what we want to do with Mirai chain. Mirai chain we launched and we’re just opening it up to developers or mobile developers, mostly because they are in some degree underserved and don’t have the opportunity to do so or the overheads to do so. So that’s what we did.

We built these and we were like, well, we might as well just offer it to them and we just offer it to them for free and that’s about it really. GroupSwap is the native swap on Mirai chain. Mirai app, I’ve already mentioned.

Petopia, I mentioned. Pegasy, I mentioned. Mirai ID, I mentioned.

What else do we have? We have a payment processor, Mirai Pay. And then we have GroupSwap. GroupSwap is the native swap on Mirai chain.

Okay. Just for native tokens. And I think I’m missing one, but that’s okay.

There’s too many. Yeah, that’s wonderful. You know, you’re basically creating a very powerful ecosystem there and you’re taking care of perhaps the users need at every end.

So that is wonderful to know. You know, if you had to perhaps give advice to somebody who is trying to create an ecosystem themselves with multiple standalone platforms, what would be your advice to them? How should they perhaps manage their time and their effort? And at what point should they be launching new things? Should it be when you found a product market fit for an earlier platform? Yeah, that’s a tough question. I think for me, I guess my vision hasn’t always been the direction that we’re going right now.

And fundamentally, our decisions are driven upon the desire to survive as a studio. So that takes you in very interesting routes and is heavily dependent on what’s happening at the studio at the time. However, I am blessed to have a CTO that is able to ship and imagine these products.

Basically, anything I say he’s able to build, anything I come up with on top of whatever he comes up with, right? So I just pitch him a user experience that I want to have inside of these games. And he’s built this entire ecosystem to enable it, you know, gas-free transactions, how to do that. We did it.

A mobile app that is live in the app stores alongside games, which means users don’t need to do anything. Web3, a login service, like all of these things. I think it just comes down to fundamentally, we had an end desire of the user experience that we wanted to give our users.

And how do we get there? And then having a CTO who’s able to see that vision and translate it. And then obviously, for me at the CEO position, we just need to keep the team alive and active and positive in shipping and bringing in more people while that stuff is being built. Because it’s extremely painful to have nothing live, but building everything.

So to get to the end point, I mean, is hard enough itself. But the second you go live, I mean, I’m sure you know what it’s like on the first launch day. It’s a disaster 99% of the time.

But it’s the exciting part. And that’s kind of where we sit now, right? So if I did have any advice for those people on the outside looking in and possibly attempting in the ecosystem play, I would say just expect it to be expensive. You really need a team that you can trust, meaning like these guys are not rookies.

They’ve been in the trenches a long time, especially on the blockchain side. You’re going to have to get your audits and have fun paying for those audits. Doesn’t feel nice at all to your treasury.

And beyond that, even if you guys build it, just because you built it doesn’t mean that they’re going to play or use it. So be ready and make sure that you have someone on your team who knows how to go to market because you can build the best stuff in the world. But if they ain’t using it, ain’t the best stuff in the world.

Absolutely. I 100% agree. So let’s shift gears a little bit.

You know, you’re also the co-founder of Tag Toys, a significant player in Australia’s toy gun market. So, you know, how did that happen? And how has this experience with Tag Toys contributed to your entrepreneurial journey, especially considering its rapid growth? You know, you’ve seen massive growth in terms, I think, about 15 million in yearly revenue and you are bootstrapping it all. So can you tell us a little about that? Yeah, for sure.

I think that’s an interesting one, actually. When I look back, how that came about, I actually, that first company, the first crypto company that I started, I did pretty well. And I was very young, like 19 or 20.

And I was like, OK, I will buy a car. So I bought a car and I joined a car club. Silly decision, but also changed my life.

So maybe not such a silly decision. And then I met my co-founder at the car club. And then he came up to me with one of the toy guns and shot me and was like, I want to start the company.

And I was like, well, I definitely want to join you. And he was far more experienced than me in the space at that time. But I really wanted to learn e-commerce.

So I dove in and I just basically was in the trenches as there to learn and provide any opportunity I could to Tag Toys. I did all the videos and general socials as well. And then we just grew from there.

Right. Obviously, market timing is exceptionally critical. We did really, really well.

We were one of the first. We took advantage of Christmas and then just consistency on on socials. We just grew the brand to another level, became the household name, dominated ads, dominated organic and just ensure that we remained in stock so that we could continue selling.

And yeah. And then from there, we did start another one. We actually have another one called Joball Undercover, which is a industry that one does high end toy guns.

So I know that sounds weird, but we do guns from a thousand to two thousand dollars, which is like full metal inside and outside. And even though they shoot little gel balls, they can make you bleed. So it’s a really, really big hobby in Australia because airsoft, if you’re familiar, it’s illegal and they use hard plastic BBs.

So this is like the main alternative. And we were just blessed enough to take over really the entire market. TacToys was suited to beginners, learners, first entrants, and then Joball Undercover is once those people become hobbyists and obsessed, that’s where they go.

They go to Joball Undercover. So from top to bottom, really, we do cover that industry and that I would say out of everything, it’s taught me what not to do, but also how to operate and prove myself. You know, I wanted to know if I could go to market.

So I did it with we did it with TacToys and I learned a lot, but I wasn’t sure if I learned what to do or what not to do. So then we did it again with Joball Undercover and just confirmed that, yeah, we knew what we were doing. And that experience purely led into, you know, P2E news that I mentioned earlier.

That’s how I grew P2E news. I knew that those eyes would be really valuable to us. And because I had gone to market before, I knew how to get those eyes.

Well, this is wonderful to know that, you know, there’s a niche to be found everywhere. And, you know, you guys found one and perhaps when the iron was hot, you know, you hammered it away and, you know, you’ve done so well. And this is actually something new that I’m learning that this is I did not know that this is such a big hobby in Australia.

So, yeah, I mean, we did. We didn’t either, of course, but it just wasn’t there before. And I guess Australians like toy guns and never look back.

It’s never slowed down. It’s just been consistent. And I think we’re quite blessed.

Very, very, really amazing. This is this teaches me something new. And I would love to look it up a little bit, because I’d love to understand the cultural significance of this, perhaps, because this is the kind of stuff that really interests me.

Like, why do people from certain, you know, geographies have certain hobbies or certain likings? They have a certain predisposition, perhaps, right, to certain things. And that that might be very culturally ingrained. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

It just kind of gives you insight, perhaps, into the culture and, you know, the history a little bit more. So this is very interesting. You know, before.

Yeah, go ahead. I think just with the Australian side of things is that guns are very, very, very restrictive. And also, we’ve never been able to use airsoft.

And this was that alternative. I think an interesting point here is actually, I forgot to mention, I did another company in the Philippines for the same product. And we’re going through the mall.

So we’re in like Toys R Us and Toy Kingdom over there. And the reaction is exceptionally different because they have guns, they have airsoft guns as well. It’s far more difficult to penetrate.

I’ll be honest with you. So I think just like the fact that there’s a novelty factor. Yeah, there’s a novelty factor there, right? Yeah, they’re finally getting to use something that looks like a replica of something that they will never really see, perhaps in real life, right? Yeah.

Yeah, exactly. That’s a wonderful insight. So, you know, before these two companies, you also had, you know, you’d mentioned that you had a customer support, help desk, sort of a company for Web3, right? How did this experience shape your understanding of the Web3 landscape? And what lessons did you carry over, you know, perhaps into your gaming and then the e-commerce sector? I think one of the biggest lessons that I had was that I shouldn’t accept tokens from a company as payment because, yeah, they don’t always exist or even go up.

Yeah, that was a rookie mistake. However, beyond that, you know, that was my first serious company. Before that, I just had small things.

I was trying just straight out of school, but that one just, you know, scaled. We had 20, 30 support agents at the peak and they can handle, you know, one can handle four different companies. But it was quite obvious to me that there is something happening within the crypto space that people with money were interested in.

And it made me dive in a lot deeper to see how these companies are operating, whether they’re coordinated or not, what it takes to even build a company, get attention. Do you need to be good at it or you just need to have ambition? And it was quite clear that half these people just had no clue what the hell they were doing, which is fine. I mean, they had an idea, they wanted to execute it and they managed to get funding.

And then they had a community, but they had no one to manage it. And as a young guy, I was like, all right, all I have is time. And I have a Filipino friend and why don’t we just try to recruit and go out there? So we would just message these people.

And that was basically our first business that went well. Like I said, it was B2B. We had to go out there.

We had to close these people. I accepted tokens. I accepted Ethereum.

I did the wrong things. I did the right things. But overall, I would say the experience just came down to the fact that I knew how to hire people, manage people, bad experiences with staff, you know, just the fundamentals of someone who has turnover in a company.

Right. Wow. Okay.

I think all of these experiences, they kind of become very incremental, like you’ve mentioned how, you know, you did well with your first company and then you bought a car and you joined the car club and you met your co-founder there. And all of these, they kind of make sense only when we are looking back. Right.

You know, it all adds up retrospectively and somehow adds to our journey, which I feel is so such a beautiful thing about life that, you know, you kind of can only make sense of it when you’re looking back. And in that moment, perhaps, you know, the most absurd thing is happening and you feel like that there’s no point of this. But even that becomes like a lesson.

Yep. You could never said it better. I mean, I look back and I’m like, why would I ever buy that car? And then I’m like, if I didn’t buy that car, oh, my gosh, I don’t know where I would be.

So I don’t even know what to say about like when I look back, there’s just like there’s those key points that like, I can’t believe that actually happened and like how that led to me getting here. I met my co-founder for Mirai because I played F1 Delta time and I posted a video for my friends on YouTube so that I didn’t need to explain how to play the game to them. But he just ended up watching it and then messaged me and he was like, you want to build a game studio? I was like, no, I don’t know how to build a game studio.

Anyway, I kept speaking to him and I made friends with him. And then that’s when we went for it. So it’s like, like just small, small things like that.

Purely, it just came down to like following my passion. I like the cars. I wanted to play the game.

I liked F1. And then here we are. It’s a really, really interesting journey when I look back.

And I think most people’s lives are similar. Yeah, absolutely. That is what I’m saying.

I think on a larger scheme of things, you know, as human beings, we’re not able to perhaps understand right in that moment why something is happening. But you know, when we look back, it somehow was always meant to be and it kind of works out and that makes it really, really beautiful. And it’s also a sense, it gives you a sense of assurance as well, right? I think to keep moving on with hope because somehow things will work out in the end and do perhaps, you know, for the highest good, perhaps for you.

Agreed. So, you know, all right, let’s like do some fun questions now. Time for perhaps like, you know, gaming lightning round sort of a thing.

If you had to choose one video game character, okay, to represent Mirai Labs, who would it be and why? And what is your all-time favorite Easter egg in a game? Well, I think probably like Crash Bandicoot for the games because Mirai is orange and then I played it so much as well. And our lead character for Petopia is a fox. It just seems to, I always look back at like Crash Bandicoot and he always reminds me of like our fox hero, even though he’s not a fox.

But Crash Bandicoot for me is Mirai’s, I guess, dream. That’s the kind of IP that we want to have. And my favorite Easter egg, that’s the tough one.

When I was young, I played a lot of COD and they have a lot of Easter eggs, like a lot, a lot, a lot of Easter eggs. But there’s these like specific ones within like COD zombies that are usually really, really freaky. And that’s the kind of things that we wanted.

It wasn’t so much Easter eggs either when I was young. I preferred to like, we would go in like a private lobby with our friends and then we’d just try to explore the map and find areas that you weren’t meant to go and see if you could go there and like Call of Duty. I think it was World at War.

We would just go and stand in a corner for some reason and jump. And then you would fall under the map and we’d be like, like, this is amazing. It’s so fun.

But I’m just a nine-year-old kid. I’m not sure why I’m doing that, but I thought it was fun. So that’s more like my fond memories when I look back.

It’s not so much an Easter egg, more like, like glitch hunting, I guess we would call it. Yeah. Okay.

Yeah, that sounds fun. So now onto the next fun bit. If, you know, let’s switch back Gears perhaps to Tag Toys for a moment.

In the Tag Toys theme trivia challenge, if your life were perhaps a toy from your inventory, which one would it be and why? Is there any funny or memorable customer story that, you know, you can also perhaps tell us a little about? Sure. I think the gun that I would relate to, I like the AK-47, probably more so the fact that people look at the AK-47 as something that just continues to work no matter what. If you put it in the dirt, if you put it in the water, it doesn’t matter.

You just pull it out. And for some reason that thing works, but you use an M4, which is like a Western gun and it gets a bit of water on it, all of a sudden it seizes up. Like, I just love the AK.

And I think, I think, I hope to represent an AK with it just continues working no matter what crap gets thrown at it. And I guess a funny story back from, from Tag Toys. I don’t know if it’s a funny story, but we basically got held up in, in the shop and some guy came in with his, with his helmet on from his motorbike and we’re like, what are you doing? And he just walks in and decides to grab the gun and try to leave.

And we were like, all right, like, well, obviously that’s not going to happen. So my staff just run over to him and grab him. And he’s yelling at us through the motorbike helmet, but we have the gun and then he starts to try to fight us.

And on the way out, we have a little mannequin there that’s wearing like body armor. He just punches the mannequin, the head falls off and then he leaves. And we were like, like, what even was that? Like, why did you punch the mannequin? Come on, what did he do? So, and then just a fun memory.

It was all on camera. So we look back at it sometimes quite funny, but yeah, at the time, I mean, it wasn’t that funny until he punched the mannequin. I was obviously really scared.

I was like, what, this guy’s crazy. But looking back, hilarious, really, really funny. Yeah.

Again, you’re coming back to the same thing that, you know, once you look back, some things can be funny and rosy, but in the moment, obviously that must have been scary, right? I was definitely dying. I’m tiny, you know, I’m like, I’m like five foot nothing, 30 kilos. And this guy just walks in with the, I’m like, oh, I’m definitely dying today over a toy gun.

Wow. Okay. That sounds scary, but yeah, funny as hell now when you, you know, perhaps look back at it.

Okay. So this has been such a wonderful conversation, Kauri, I really don’t want it to end. And I would like to, you know, love to keep you for another hour and keep talking about this because I do feel, you know, gaming is, has been, and will again be one of the factors that will bring the next, you know, bull run and will do well in the next run.

What do you think, which niches do you feel would do really well in the next bull run? That’s a tough one. Which niches? I’m going to go ahead and like, to be totally honest with you, I don’t think gaming is going anywhere. I won’t say that it will lead the next bull run, but I think someone, if someone innovates similar to what we’re doing, I’m just hoping that we do lead the bull, right? Like we’re mixing something that did work and possibly has instigated the bull run being Friendtech.

It does happen to be three months ago, which is kind of when things were turning. I think something around that where, where users can play with money again, I think that is really just a large majority of this market. Sure.

There’s a macro where there’s institutional money coming in, which is going to drive the general sentiment. I don’t think anything controls that beyond macro sentiment. So I don’t think that’s independent of any type of product, but within the crypto sphere, I guess the EVM space, I really think it’s going to be something similar to what we’re doing here that really allows them to again, play with money.

It started with NFTs, trading NFTs. They weren’t just tokens, DeFi summer, and then that comes into NFTs and then it comes into play to earn. Now we’ve got games, which is like our game has NFTs, tokens, and SocialFi, which was, you know, just three months ago.

So I think we’re just getting further and further more complex into what these users who want to play with money want. And whoever, whoever innovates the best, whoever builds the best platform moves quickest and can ship, I think is going to win. And I’m just hoping that’s us.

So I would be ignorant to say, I don’t think, I would be ignorant to say that I don’t think we are doing that because I really think we are, but beyond that in the macro, I think it’s no matter what we do, the macro is going to do what the macro does. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.

That’s true. True or was it not been spoken, I think. So, you know, we, we need to, we are really out of time.

We need to wrap this up. I would love to ask you one question that I ask everybody who comes in the show and get your perspective on it. So if you know, if you have somebody who’s peering in from the Web2 side of things, or still looking with a little skepticism at the Web3 space in general, what would be your two, three, top two, three suggestions for them to start living on blockchain? I would say, if you’ve got money, just make friends and do it yourself.

And if you don’t have money, make friends for sure. Probably don’t move that quickly. The reality is if you don’t have money and you’re, and you really don’t have your eyes set on opportunity, you’re probably going to miss whatever is happening in crypto because you’re just unable to move at the same speeds.

I think you would understand as well that once you’ve been in the space a long while, when things move and shift and pivot, it’s, it doesn’t affect us as much. It’s just the reality of the space and we know it, but these people coming from the outside in are usually extremely committed to seeing it happen. You know, they do fundraisers and expecting to hit PMF over the next four years type shit.

That is just not going to happen if you have no money here. If you’re coming in with money from an existing business, then in reality, you can do whatever the hell you want. Get used to the Web3 space.

Understand it’s, I guess it’s shipping culture. It’s startup culture. But if you’ve got nothing and you’re starting from scrap, it’s a tough one.

I would probably even just join another company and get some years of experience under you or send it and fail. Just know you could fail. And if you’re happy with that, send it for sure.

Yeah, I think that’s good advice. That’s absolutely wonderful advice for people who are perhaps looking to get into the space and build in this space. Once again, Corey, thank you so much for taking out the time.

This has been such a wonderful conversation. You know, this is actually the first time we’ve really talked that much at length and it did not feel like it. And thank you so much.

Before we wrap this up, any parting thoughts? That’s it from me. Yeah, I just want to say thank you so much for letting me on on the podcast as well. And if anyone does want to check out what we’re building, all they need to do is just go to App Store, download Petopia and Mirai app and they’re good to go.

If not, no problem. I appreciate it anyway. I think they would absolutely love to, you know, check out what you guys are building for sure.

I would definitely put it up in the description. You know, you guys are doing wonderful work and you are way too humble for your own good. You know, you’re doing good.

Really, you know, put it put it out there and absolutely go out proud. So thank you once again, Corey, for taking out the time. Awesome.

I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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