13 February 2023 22:27, UTC
Reading time: ~4 m
One of the co-founders behind the controversial @NFT Instagram account is back at it again, looking for investors to pump millions into his latest crypto venture.
A year ago, the @NFT Instagram account was accused of charging $100,000 for paid posts—ads which it published without disclosure—and falsely listed investor Mark Cuban as one of its co-founders. It was also accused of promoting multiple scams and “rug pull” NFT projects. Now, one of its co-founders, Aaron Avruskin, has resurfaced with a new crypto business idea: a browser-based mobile crypto gambling game with rapper Lil Baby called “Rollies.”
“Before JPEGs and Shitcoins, and a world removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas and the high roller lifestyle—three dice, a patch of concrete, and a group of individuals bound by their desire for more combined to produce a game that shaped Hip-Hop culture,” reads the Rollies pitch deck, which has been viewed by Decrypt.
According to the 18-page deck, “Lil Baby’s Rollies” is currently seeking $6 million in seed funding and has been in development since January 2022. The @NFT Instagram account was banned in February 2022, but the associated @NFT Twitter account was already banned by January of last year.
The Rollies deck mostly consists of graffiti-style fonts, images of dice, and a large helping Lil Baby’s likeness. The presentation promises a “free” Lil Baby NFT drop of between 50,000-100,000 NFTs, a Rollies crypto mobile gambling game, and a roadmap focused on sponsored tournaments and subsequent NFT drops.
According to the deck, the project is hiring artist Distortedd—who’s worked with the likes of Reebok, Redbull, and Adidas—to design art for the project and says it enlisted gambling game developer Aquimo to create the core Rollies game product. Aquimo has not yet responded to Decrypt‘s request for comment.
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Rollies also claims it has secured the Doodles, Pudgy Penguins, and Sappy Seals, and six other projects as partner NFT collections. Such “partners” will promote the Rollies brand, receive allowlist spots, participate in Twitter and Discord talks, and have “some access” to Rollies live events, per the deck.
Representatives for Doodles and Sappy Seals did not immediately respond to Decrypt‘s request for comment. Pudgy Penguins CEO replied only with question marks via DM.
In the second and third quarter of 2023, Rollies plans to “deploy subsequent funding” to launch a native token, which is currently unnamed. No tokenomics or further details were provided regarding the token’s viability or distribution. It also wants to raise another $10-20 million in funding at that time.
The third “phase” of Rollies consists of the launch of Lil Baby’s “Cultural Fund,” which will supposedly help “Black and brown” entrepreneurs with “culturally savvy business acumen and plans.”
The deck claims that within two years, Rollies could earn $16 million in “wearables and forging” drops (likely NFTs), $9 million in “sponsorship sales,” and $5 million in “secondary sales” (royalties from NFT trading). Rollies’ seed funding round plans to offer investors a Common Share Offering, a move which one venture capital consultant told Decrypt was highly unusual for a seed round.
“Common shares are typically offered later on, in a Series B,” the consultant told Decrypt.
Common shares are also typically reserved for employees and founders, while preferred shares are sold to investors.
But just like a game of dice, investing in seed-round projects can also be a high-risk gamble for potential investors. In startup companies’ seed rounds, there’s typically little to no completed product for investors to evaluate, and many initial seed investments are made because investors trust the founder’s ability to deliver what’s been promised.
A crypto VC firm partner told Decrypt in a direct message that VCs typically examine numerous factors including the founding team’s background, as well as consider what kind of “problem” the project is solving before investing. The partner said that unreasonable valuation asks, a lack of understanding user “pain points,” and a team with little experience are red flags that can cause concern.
“The team is the most important component in the early stage,” the partner, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, told Decrypt.
As for Lil Baby’s involvement in the project, it’s unclear to what extent he’ll actually be participating, but the rapper does like NFTs. He’s tweeted about them in the past and has been collecting PFP NFTs including a pink Bored Ape with a baby bonnet, which he later mutated.
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“While celebrities and rappers have harmed the space with countless cash grabs and rug pulls, Lil Baby has done Web3 the right way,” the team behind Rollies says in its pitch deck.
A source familiar with Lil Baby’s NFT plans confirmed to Decrypt that the rapper has been working on an NFT project of his own for at least six months—but it’s unclear if the project in question is Avruskin’s Rollies project or something else entirely.
Representatives for Lil Baby have not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.