Meta Studio #MetaverseTalks Episode 1: Interview w/ Adrian Niculescu, CEO of Meta Studio
Today we are inaugurating our series of web 3.0 interviews with the hottest experts and innovators that are transforming the internet we know so far. We plan to have a memorable journey together exploring what the upcoming web3 could be, out-of-the-box ideas for the metaverse or blockchain innovation, decentralized spaces and more. Thank you for reading / watching / listening and stay tuned for an exciting new video interview every week or so!
Adrian Niculescu (CEO of Meta Studio) — Interview Transcript
Miriam Cihodariu (Interviewer): Hi, Adrian!
Adrian Niculescu (Interviewee): Hi, Miriam! Thank you for having me today.
Miriam: Thank you as well for taking the time. So, let’s delve right into the hot topic.
Question #1. What is Meta Studio, the startup you are now heading as CEO?
Adrian: Meta Studio is THE business metaverse for content creators who want to feel like playing when working, which is something I believe every one of us who are doing content a little bit would like to have in their portfolio of tools and mediums to express ourselves.
Question #2. Why do you think Meta Studio will be a success?
Adrian: The metaverse is a word on everybody’s lips today, especially through the fact that Facebook took a great bet changing their name to Meta and building their own metaverse. Especially if I’m looking at the conference circuit, where I attend a lot as a speaker at many events — because I find this to be my contribution to the growth of the industry — and I see not dozens, at least hundreds of metaverses that are being built. It’s like everybody is trying to build a metaverse.
Also, small brands and big brands, they all want a piece of the metaverse, which is like an infinite playfield, you know, because you don’t know where it starts and you don’t know where it ends. And the biggest mistake here is to say ‘OK, we are building a metaverse for everybody’, you know? So, when you build a metaverse you need to do it on a niche, to stick to that niche and after that to build interoperability with other metaverses. Because, say, if you build your avatars in 5 to 10 metaverses, it will be like having a Gmail account, a Yahoo account, an Outlook account, and so on, so ideally you would have one main email address and all the others set to redirect to your main one, you know?
Adrian: It’s the same with the metaverse — you will need ONE very, very good avatar and, let’s say, ‘presence’ in a proven metaverse which is built in a proven niche, and after that to have interoperability with the others. That will be like email addresses which redirect to the main one. And the metaverse we started is built on this specific niche, it’s a business metaverse and, more than that, it’s also built on a sub-niche, it’s for content creators, and the sub-niche of the sub-niche is content creators who want to feel like playing when they work.
This is very important because if we look at the younger generations, people in their early twenties, starting their work journey, it’s like nobody wants to work in the traditional way today.
Adrian: So, if we are looking at the kids when they play on an iPhone, you know, they could start doing stuff immediately, without anybody telling them what to do, without reading a manual or taking a course first, they are [digitally native] kids so everything is intuitive.
So, this is how we are designing it and how we are building it: the content creators are the people who would start using it immediately as a natural part of their life, and they would also have the opportunity — but not a guarantee because there is still some effort involved, you know, even when you are playing you still need to make an effort — so, they have the opportunity to build an income, their main one or a side income. That will be their decision based on their level of involvement, they will have all the tools required to monetize their activity, their content creation.
They will be able to sell what they are creating, they will be able to rent their creations to brands, and they would be able to be paid by views, by interactions and so on, you know, there are many [earning] models. But when they would create videos, audios, songs, movies and other things, they would be able to have a stable monetization platform, which will make all the difference.
Also, I believe our metaverse will be successful because the team behind it will do everything needed and will take the hard route of building this thing. I am also referring to the conference circuit, I for instance have started speaking in the blockchain space in 2018, and many times you see these people coming every year with new projects, which is OK, but in the meantime the projects they brought last year were killed. They raise some money, they don’t do anything with it, they raise some money again and so on.
In my activity, at least, and this is also the mantra of the team behind Meta Studio, we are of course working like crazy because we love what we are doing, so it feels like play, you know, to actually build the project. One of my favorite entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson — with all the goods and bads, of course, nobody is perfect, but overall he’s my favorite, and somehow the Virgin brand can sell anything to me, I am totally letting myself get hooked by their marketing — so he is saying that it’s very important, especially when you are working on something that seems hard, to have this feeling and this way of doing things that feels like playing, because otherwise, especially in the hard moments, in the worse moments, if you don’t have that you will quit.
So, based on seeing and having these ingredients, I believe that Meta Studio has all the chances to become a success. But, of course, the work comes first, the success is only an effect of the things which are done before. It’s the same as the amount of money that any person has in their accounts, that is also an effect of the jobs, the activities, the involvement, and, of course, the chances and connections and so on. That is also an effect — so if you work on the results directly, it might not work, you have to work on the processes, on the things that would generate the results.
Now we are in the phase where we need to do all the things necessary for the project to be funded properly, the community to be built, the quality of the community to be very high in order for them to embrace such a project, and also to build the technological infrastructure which is the core of the project. Also, of course, to recruit the best talent in order to enlarge our team.
Miriam: Yes, we believe Meta Studio will succeed as well, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.
Question #3. Why do you think — what can you tell our audience about content creators joining Meta Studio now?
Miriam: So, why is now the best time for content creators to hop on board?
Adrian: The metaverse is a new medium of expression, it’s like in the 90s when the internet took shape. So, it’s very important for the content creators who want to be leaders, not followers, to be early adopters and embrace this new medium of expression. It will be a first-mover advantage for most of them, but, of course, even when you are first, there is no guarantee that you will stay there.
I will repeat myself: the metaverse is, before anything else, a new medium of expression, a new medium where we as people digest information, learn new things, sell and purchase new stuff, so we put money there or we take money there, so it’s also a new medium to build some kind of wealth.
So, every smartphone owner and creator should take and embrace this opportunity with both hands! That is an expression I’m using because I did, at a certain moment, a very, very good deal to a company and even after that they said OK, but we need this and that… And I told them ‘if I were you, I would see that this opportunity is something that nobody else on the market has, and I’d take it with both hands and that’s it, no asking for other things!’
It’s the same for content creators: it’s a no brainer to get involved in the metaverse because the entry level is low so anybody can do it, anybody can start. But at the same time, to find the platform or the few platforms which will pass the test of time and will be able to give them what they want from this new medium of expression — to express themselves in a certain way, to have all the tools for creation, for monetization, etc.
Also, for us, being these platforms in a very, very competitive market with other players who have unlimited resources, if you want to succeed you need to be better than 90–95% of the others. Otherwise, you will fall into the loser zone. You know… these are the statistics, 90 to 95% of all startups fail. So, to succeed you have to strive to be better than 90–95% of the others.
But I am also saying that Meta Studio is not competing with anybody because what we’re building is in a blue ocean medium, we don’t want to be in the red ocean. Like, 5% of the commission of this and that platform go there… we don’t want to do that.
We want to build this in a way in which we can be like a Glovo for content creators who really want to do this, because, as I said, it’s not for anybody. [The project] has a niche and a sub niche and sub-sub niche and we want to attract, especially in the beginning, the kind of early adopters who will see the value in what we’re doing, and to have a critical mass of early adopters which will allow us to grow like crazy in a natural and sustainable way.
Question #4. What is the value that Meta Studio has for institutional investors?
Miriam: Time to talk about the other end of the spectrum now.
Adrian: Of course. What I’m saying now is not investment advice, it’s for entertainment purposes [laughs]. This is a disclaimer that has to be attached to any statement like that and always, especially when I’m speaking at events, I say that whenever I express such advice It’s based on what I’m doing or thinking, but everyone has to do their own due diligence.
I see this in the market, because I’m working with a lot of investors, and all of them are looking for the next big thing to invest in early on, but, of course, to also mitigate the risk of failure and to have a potentially good return on investment (ROI). The institutional investors and the VCs, they are actually driving the market because based on their investments and contributions, the big projects are built.
So, they have a big responsibility at the end of the day, regarding which projects they are investing in, and, by choosing what projects to invest in, they are developing and are driving the market.
When I am analyzing a project, and I believe all institutional investors are also looking at these three elements, I am looking at: the quality of the team and what they did before, this is very important for a project, because if there are problems and potential failures a good team will be able to pivot and solve the issues. A weak team will just disappear.
The second thing I’m looking at is a criterion developed over time working alongside VCs and institutional investors, so these are not my inventions but things I’m seeing in the market. So, the second thing is if there is a technological or commercial innovation for the project not to be a copycat.
Copycats can also work very well, but I believe entrepreneurship is all about advancement, about doing something better than it was done before. Meta Studio has this very specific metaverse part for content creators, it’s very specific so we want to advance this space in order to offer content creators something they don’t find anywhere else.
The third element is the potential of mass adoption. This is very important for any project to be able to produce any sizeable return on investment (ROI). Ok, we see the metaverse very well, but how can we develop this space, how can we have a slice of this space? But not in the competitive way, in the creative way. How can we have a slice from a bigger cake?
I said in the beginning that the metaverse is infinite, but this is theoretical. In the real world, metaverses are built by teams of software developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and the good metaverses will have a footprint in the ether for as long as the teams will be able to build a sustainable project. Otherwise, it will just be the next big fad. Nobody will want to get involved.
Based on these three criteria, I am advising all the people I’m talking and working with, from the VC world to the professional investment world, the family office world, to take a very good look at this project, [Meta Studio]. If they are seeing what we are seeing, they are welcome to get involved.
At the end of the day, it’s all about business. If you go to our whitepaper you will see that there are some evergreen business principles we all learn in university, which are mentioned there and I didn’t see in other whitepapers. This means that there is a certain way of thinking and a certain type of strategic approach and the application of the evergreen business principles which were the same, let’s say, 200 years ago, and they will be the same in the next 100 to 200 years.
Miriam: …and they still apply to really new spaces.
Adrian: Of course, because the new spaces are new spaces of expression, of marketing, of income generation, but some (not all) of these evergreen business principles remain there. And I believe that many people with a business university and post-graduate background, when they check the whitepaper, they will see some things that they can’t see anywhere else, which is pretty cool.
Of course, besides those principles, Meta Studio is a highly technological project, which is designed for early adopters to take it with both hands, so it helps them boost the returns from their content creation activities.
Question #5. What is your background in crypto and technology?
Miriam: Okay, tell us more about you and your background in crypto and technology.
Adrian: My background is more than 20 years of entrepreneurship, [and then] I entered into this industry in 2016, I heard about Bitcoin back then. I wasn’t, unfortunately, among the guys who were able to buy Bitcoins for $1 [laughs], but since them I met a lot of them, but a few years later.
Starting with 2017, I was involved with CloudCoin. CloudCoin is a post-blockchain digital currency, and I served there as CMO for more than 5 years which is not typical in this space. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a lot of other opportunities, but I wanted to have a view of the full cycle and see the project from scratch until a certain level.
Since 2019, I’ve also started to have advisory roles in different projects, there were opportunities for me to be a non-executive director in these companies and contribute from time to time with different viewpoints than the team is having. This was, and still is for me, a very, very challenging thing. You have to have a very updated mind, because the partners you are working with, they expect feedback on things which can be applied immediately, not theoretical advice.
I was working also with LATOKEN, which is one of the top 20 exchanges on CoinGecko. It’s a company with more than 300 employees, dealing with lots of investments in this space, especially venture capital-backed tokens and partnerships with investment funds.
Among the companies I’m advising, there are companies listed on NASDAQ, early-stage startups or projects which are now very, very big.
Miriam: Yes, so you’re very familiar with the entrepreneurial and startup scene.
Adrian: Yes, I am never an advisor anywhere just in name. The most important things for me are to believe in the project, to like the project and to feel like I can contribute in a meaningful way, even as a non-executive director.
I am also very present in the conference space, I speak at dozens of events every year, I see speaking as part of my contribution, and always when I’m speaking, I don’t think about promoting myself, but about giving [the audience] some ideas, knowledge or golden nuggets which could be applied.
I see myself as a contributor in the blockchain space, in the tech space, doing my part, which sometimes it feels like work but most of the time it feels like playing. [Laughs] By design, not by default. My purpose is to be a part of growing and developing this space.
It’s not easy, there are many moments where you can’t picture tomorrow clearly, but I always find ways to move forward.
Miriam: I apologize that I need to hurry you a bit.
Adrian: [laughs] I could speak for 3 days about all this and it would only be a warm-up!
Question #6. What is the one take-away that you would like every viewer / listener to remain with regarding Meta Studio?
Miriam: If you could just highlight one idea for them to have.
Adrian: The most important thing about Meta Studio is that it’s a business metaverse.
Miriam: So, it’s a metaverse in which you do business.
Adrian: Exactly! And when they see that it’s a business metaverse, they have to think about how they can get involved. They can be active players or become content creators, or, if they are active in other niches and activities, they can just remain users, part of our communities, just hold some tokens and be part of what’s happening.
The take-away is to take a very good look at the Meta Studio project, read the whitepaper, look at the website, and to decide not if they will get involved, but how they will get involved.
Thank you very much for having me today, and can’t wait to come back and to discuss more!
Question #7. Where can we meet you at future events in the near future?
Miriam: Give us a heads-up of where you can be found in the next few months.
Adrian: We are at the end of May so the nearest event will be tomorrow and the day after tomorrow at Bitcoin Bucharest 2022. After that, on the 6–7–8 of June at the AIBC Summit in Toronto, Canada, and the 22–26 in June at Crypto Milan, and at the end of the month at the global DEFI Summit in Dubai. This is the fourth edition and I spoke at all previous ones — in three of them I also MC-ed one of the days.
There will be many others, but most events are announced 1–2 months before so sometimes there are last-minute arrangements. Overall, because of the COVID restrictions becoming non-existent in many places, I will see a big boom of events starting this September.
We also have a section on the Meta Studio website regarding events, that is updated all the time, with conventions, conferences, expos, where you can meet our team. Either me or you or other members of the team, it doesn’t matter who you are meeting because if you have something to discuss, that information will be passed to the proper person.
Miriam: Okay, thank you very much for your time, Adrian. Cheers!
Adrian: Me too, and now let’s do the play — the work that feels like play! [laughs].