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Saturday, 25 May 2024

UCC DAK – bringing non profit ideas to Upland

Another interesting insight to playing the Upland SuperApp

UCC Dak has a dual career working for non-profits and the tech sector since 1995. He discovered with the former sector that no matter what kind of organization he worked for, the purpose of the organization was very dear to the market it served. It could have been helping universities run better, helping minorities with HIV and AIDS awareness or improving the chemical engineering profession, but the non-profits really cared for their community and the community responded in kind.

“Working for non-profits really showed me that there is so much interconnectivity between organizations – we are human after all. I learnt how one ecosystem impacts other ecosystems around it and when there are good intentions then the impacts are positive.”

In the other half of his career, working in for-profits UCC DAK learnt about generating income and making profit which has also highlighted the importance of corporate responsibility.

“I’m not against making profits and I tell my non-profit colleagues that Revenue is not a four letter word. In the US nonprofits and NGOs are businesses. They have to register with the IRS as a corporation and people may not realize they have more regulatory obligations than ordinary corporations. It’s actually easier to run a for-profit than a non-profit.”

According to UCC DAK, the challenge for non-profits is not just to do good, but they need to be business-like in their approach as they need to deliver on their mission – and for that they need money.

UCC DAK first came across Web3 when working for a Canadian FinTech company entering the North American market. It was a payments company and one of its payment streams was crypto.

“I thought it was amazing – I saw great potential for NFTs and blockchain and started to do some research. I could see the collision of tech and non-profits in Web3 and crypto.”

Such was his interest, UCC DAK set up a Twitter Space called Perpetual Good in the Metaverse as a means to find out more about what was happening in the sector. He wanted to share this knowledge too.

“I really fell in love with the idea of how Web3 tech can really support a more decentralized, geographically dispersed mission.”

Part of his attraction to Web3 also lies in his gaming past. UCC DAK is a huge gamer and has been since he was little. He has even created games with his son.

“I’m just a big kid really.”

UCC DAK sees gaming as helping people develop strategic thinking, creative thinking and analytic thinking.

“Not the shooter games necessarily but the open world games help gamers develop different skill sets, and figure out their own game loops. That is really what is fun about gaming – the strategy.”

Such is UCC DAK’s belief in the power of gaming that he is encouraging his children to look at Blender and Unity and to perhaps start coding.

“User Generated Content (UCG) is core to Web3 – and I love the fact that digital assets created by players, are owned by players and can even be sold on an open secondary market by players. Moreover, you can do this wherever you live – you don’t have to be in New York or another major metropolis.”

UCC DAK became fascinated by play-to-earn gaming with such possibilities. In truth, he was tired of spending hundreds of dollars on freemium gaming models and having nothing to show for the end of it. He is a collector by nature and has accumulated many collectibles over the years, and even redeemed some for a modest return.

He stumbled across an advert for Upland and he was interested.

“Naturally I made all the mistakes that rookies make. Not knowing about FSA properties (low cost properties reserved for newbies), buying on a secondary market and also leveling up too fast (and losing newbie benefits).”

For the record there are many Youtubers giving advice and also Uplanders on Discord are very helpful.

UCC DAK joined in September 2021. He bought into the NFLPA and also started off in Manhattan, which, as an expensive city, was probably not the best location to start with. Initial frustration led him to Discord and he found other Uplanders who were prepared to help him get more out of Upland.

“I realized that I was useless at buying and flipping properties – which is one of the main tenets of this game – but instead I joined the Upland Construction Company (UCC) where my project management skills were put to good use.”

What interests UCC Dak about Upland is the opportunity to take a real-world business model and implement it into the metaverse. Of course, as he notes everything in the metaverse moves at hyper speed. What might take months in the real world can happen in weeks in Upland. A case in point was the UCC discord that went from 200 people to 1600 in weeks. UCC has also built 1000s of properties and transferred millions of UPX to players.

“This is my game loop. To create what is now called a metaventure in Upland – a corporation that can create any inorganic items such as cars and structures. I partnered with MassChef – which is often what happens in Upland – people find their buddy. I’ve never met him in real life but we have started a real-life business together.”

UCC DAK comes up with crazy ideas and MassChef figures out how to make them work. The most recent idea is racing. Together they started Upland Racing League as a marketplace for all things racing in Upland. They are hosting regular races with real prizes. The lines between real life and metaverse are starting to blur with real life businesses sponsoring metaverse activities. UCC DAK gives the example of sponsor HydePark Ninjas which is a Node in Upland that has opened a real-life coffee business.

“I’ve tried the coffee, it’s very good.”

Another example is Anthology Puzzles that makes wooden puzzles and it is creating a limited puzzle for Halloween to support the Creedmore Node.

“I’m hoping to reach out to real world racing and automobile brands to come in and sponsor our events.”

His first proof of concept that PGiM (Perpetual Good in the Metaverse) can be achieved came together with help from Shaktikyn and ThankMeLate. Together the three of them decided to undertake a layer two experience in racing but to make it a charitable event. They partnered with artists to create cool NFT art and the net proceeds from the event was to raise $5000 for the Child Mind Institute, a charity dedicated to transforming the lives of children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.

One thing led to another – and the players in Upland tend to be very philanthropic. As part of UCC DAK’s Perpetual Good in the Metaverse Twitter Spaces, he got involved with an organization called EnDAOment.org, a non-profit Web3 based blockchain that helps non-profits with on-chain transactions, in particular raising funds through crypto and converting crypto to USD. As a result UCC DAK met James Siegal, former CEO and fellow of KABOOM!

KABOOM! was founded more than two decades ago with a vision to provide every child with a safe and engaging play space. It has built hundreds of playgrounds in cities across America especially in disadvantaged areas.

UCC DAK and Segal began chatting and UCC DAK threw out a crazy idea – What if the metaverse could reflect real world playgrounds and raise money for the charity?

According to UCC DAK decentralized engagement is important to community development and they started to figure out how to engage the community, what workflows were needed to be set up and how to match the real world with the metaverse. He got help from Danny Brown Wolf and Mallory Hank-Johnson from Upland. He teamed up again with Shaktikyn. The advice was to break this project into phases. They needed to run the project through a metaventure but they also needed artists to create the digital assets. Shaktikyn partners with TossHed and they had experience in creating designs so the digital playground design was given to them.

“They came back with five awesome assets. I really liked the dinosaur slide, but this was growing into a real team effort.”

Two blocks away from the lot they purchased for the first Upland Kaboom site, is a factory in Chicago where they will build the assets. There is also a showroom in Oakland with others planned in Oakland, Fresh Meadows and Dallas. The showrooms will sell the unique assets.

It is not possible to build an actual playground in Upland but it is possible to create a playground-looking environment. The partnership will look to sell these assets, taking 10% as an administrational fee, with the rest going to KABOOM!. This is just phase one.

“Earning assets this way can be liberating for non-profits as the funds are not restricted. Maybe they can use the income to hire a grant writer or to create training videos. We cannot raise enough to build a real-world playground (typical cost is $150,000) but we can help them achieve it.

“Fundraising is not the only aim, the value proposition of the metaverse is being able to get your message out to communities who may need or indeed support the original idea.”

Layering real world business into the metaverse is very exciting for UCC DAK but at the end of the day it is all about community.

“Upland is a community where I can be creative, strategic and see the fruits of my labor in a very tactile way. I can see my building going up and I can see my Discord numbers going up. In short, it’s a platform where I can create and build.”

Jillian Godsil
Blockchain Advocate, Founder, Conference Chair, Women in Blockchain Advocate, Keynote Speaker, Crypto Journalist, Broadcaster, CEO, Writer, Homelessness Advocate, Former European Parliament Candidate, Law Changer, Mother, Choir Member, Hill Walker, Dreamer

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