Ronin the Collector
Ronin, real name unknown, looks twenty years younger than his actual age and is father to three small children. And that, being a father, is the one thing he knew he wanted to be from a very young age. As it happens, despite a more mundane day job as a data analyst where he gets to check data in spreadsheets to mine fiat to support his family, it is looking like he will soon be able to migrate to a full time career in the NFT world. When this happens, and it’s coming soon, he will be living the dream.
His digital moniker, Ronin the Collector, sometimes confuses people. He will frequently receive links from artists and without any preamble, be asked to purchase their pieces. While sympathetic to the difficulty of selling art online and generally supportive of artists, he advises people not to do this – not least of which because he doesn’t have a large disposable income.
His love of all things digital began at an early age when he started gaming. He has strong memories of getting his first Nintendo Entertainment system when he was just six years of age. Ever since gaming has been a big part of his life, and that has morphed into different attractions including collectable cards. In 2015 he stumbled over the Topps collecting app and started buying Star Wars digital cards.
“I first discovered digital collectables when I read about a JPG selling for $200 and I was like whaaaat?”
Previously, Ronin had been a gamer and a hoarder at the same time. Playing the Japanese game Shenmue he operated a digital forklift task to earn points to spin the gashapon and win the resulting prizes.
“I literally worked at the forklift job for days on end to get the ultra-rare cards. As a kid we didn’t have much money and so I could not afford to buy cards, so earning them was a great way for me.”
Ronin is conscious that it is possible to buy these rarities outright – indeed he recently witnessed a player enter a Topps game and spend $25,000 to get the cards he wanted.
“I have kids and we have a new home – this was not an option for me – instead it drove me to be very good at the games, and when I accumulated prize money I used it to upgrade my gaming PCs”
Ronin knew about Bitcoin but that wasn’t where his head was at, instead he got more into the Topps games and when they launched the digital Garbage Pail Kids GPK last year he was all in –or he would have been had not an emergency wisdom tooth operation intervened at the same time. The first Topps GPK drop sold out in just 37 hours and he only managed to buy a few sets before his pain killers sent him back to sleep.
Subsequently he has been active buying and selling NFTs, and he is in profit, doubling his initial investment which stands at about $6000.
“Once I got over my emergency wisdom teeth, I began to track the trajectory of the card price. I understood the energy of the first sale, then the lull, then the way packs tended to plateau in price before rising again with new buyers.”
The learning took its toll. Ronin spent two weeks following the progress of the packs on the secondary market, getting a few scant hours of sleep a night. He still had the day job and his family, but he was totally addicted – and wrecked.
“My wife finally pulled me to one side one Sunday afternoon and said go to bed. I did and I slept for 16 hours straight.”
Ronin was now going down the rabbit hole. He recognised his huge interest was matched by others. He began to build a community online and he wanted to bring value to that community. He set up Facebook groups and then Discord groups. He reached out to giants in this space and his first interview was with the lead designer of the Project Kogs on WAX. ArcLegger from Red Fox Labs is a bit of a legend in this space and Ronin could not believe his luck.
“I knew I was meant to stick with this space and I’ve been here ever since.”
In these endeavours Ronin is joined by his co-host on NFTLive, NiftyQ, and their show Director, CryptoBuffalo. They divide up their responsibilities across the LADZ network with Ronin active in digital art and live auctions, while Q and Buffalo each have projects they focus on directly.
The most active community set up by the team is the Ladz community on Discord which numbers about 900 members who are very engaged. At the same time, NFTLive, a weekly podcast focused on NFT’s that Q started in 2021, has become one of their flagship shows on their YouTube network. They dish out Ladz tokens to reward their community for engagement and in turn these can be used to access different ‘districts,’ their way of organizing chat channels by topic, in the Ladz Discord server, as well as access to special events and content specifically focused on engagement between the creators and their community.
Despite the gender specific sounding name, Ronin assures me that they are seeing more women in their chat, and this is something that he’s very proud of. There are also a number of different shows during the week covering different topics on YouTube, all catering to the crypto community.
Ronin and the team are looking to rebrand, using the Ladz name, and expanding upon their community through various mediums. Community lore is very important and Ronin has started building this out by curating art that fits their cyberpunk vibe – different artists have been commissioned to create this art for the community, which will be auctioned off during a live event in the Metaverse.
Ronin is constantly innovating and looking at ways of meshing the real world with the digital. Recently he planned on hosting a live digital art auction with a professional auctioneer in Dencentraland. It hit some hiccups, notably on the digital auction house side, and this has been rescheduled but the innovation has already attracted a lot of interest.
He’s moved the venue from Decentraland to CryptoVoxels and is planning a special night.
“The community said it wanted to be able to chat during the auction so this is on the agenda. Even though we’re in a metaverse there are some things that are best translated from the real world – such as the ability to interact during the evening. It’s social and not just commercial.”
The plan is to have a viewing the night before the auction, with cocktails, which is traditional in the real world.
“Just because it is digital does not mean it is not social.”
The 12 artists are already picked out for the first auction and Ronin wants to curate new artists in a friendly way. He has found too that he is a ‘lighthouse’ and can link up people to benefit their art generally, linking graphic artists with musicians. He spends a lot of time on Clubhouse where he is meeting like-minded ‘ladz.’ He assists newbies to get online and then create their first NFT. While chatting on Clubhouse, he will scout artists’ Instagram and if he thinks they are a fit, he invites them to join the Discord group.
The plan is to host a gallery auction monthly initially, but he hopes to create a full metaverse for Ladz where people can come and view a preview, then wander outside and maybe have a beer with other people.
“Who knows, but we may have wearables and interact even more directly. How cool would that be?”
Until the new ladz city in the metaverse is built, hop over to https://bit.ly/joinladz to catch up with the community and learn about all things NFTs. And if Ronin ever advertises face cream – buy it! He’s actually 37 years old but you’d card him if he walked into a bar. Whatever cream he’s using, I’m buying!
First published in VOICE