Vitruveo's VIP Soiree at 37xDubai Image Credit: Supplied

Back in 2013, Nik Kalyani ventured into the world of cryptocurrencies, setting up his own Bitcoin mining rig - embracing Bitcoin when its value was a fraction of what it is today. He also co-authored Udacity’s Blockchain Nanodegree to teach developers how to program smart contracts and lead companies that built tools to help web2 developers build on web3.

More recently, Nik, who is based out of the US, launched Vitruveo, a platform for creators to showcase their artwork, engage and monetise it using the power of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

According to Nik, the platform is onboarding up to 2,500 artists by December 2023 from which the Top 50 will be displayed in New York’s Time Square in the coming months. Nik also helped organise and manage several art galleries and conferences globally, such as the NamasteyNFT in India with over 10,000 attendees and Foundry art exhibition in Dubai with over 500 attendees.

Over his more than a decade-long journey, Nik has visited various parts of the world such as remote villages of the rainforests Paraguay and Argentina to understand how web3 and blockchain could help indigenous artists, supporting thousands with online art challenges and buys.

Early Years in Crypto

Nik’s entrepreneurial mindset took off with over five different startups that he was involved in. The most notable was a company he co-founded called ‘DNN Corporation’, a popular open source content management system in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Nik was awarded Microsoft’s ‘most valuable professional’ for 11 straight years from 2006 to 2016.

Years later in 2017 after multiple businesses and a successful Bitcoin mining rig, he got involved with CryptoKitties NFTs which was just the start of the NFT boom. “After my initial journey into NFTs, I founded NftyDreams that helped artists help each other strive in web3,” says Nik.

“We realised the challenges artists and the industry faced throughout our journey, and Vitruveo is a confluence of all our work in the space, built to tackle and solve creator problems, helping them navigate through the new found digital art world.”

After my initial journey into NFTs, I founded NftyDreams that helped artists help each other strive in web3

- Nik Kalyani

As an early adopter in the crypto space, Nik gained a lot of exposure to NFTs and the technology that made it ‘more than just a JPEG’. Now, Vitruveo seeks to help local and indigenous artists around the world make use of the NFT technology to the best of their abilities.

For instance, artists spend 80% of their time understanding marketing, operations and social media promotion rather than creating art, which is the one thing they’re meant to do. Vitruveo aims to vertically integrate the ecosystem and its products and services, offering workshops and training on conventional art standards, as well as the marketing to its artists.

“This approach provides sustainable growth and especially supports the success of creators onboarding themselves into the web3 ecosystems for the very first time,” Nik says.

Newest NFT brainchild

The platform enables easy artist onboarding into the web3 ecosystem and helps make their artwork accessible by mainstream users at a large scale. For example, an artist can sell their art in the form of digital collectibles, put it up in their custom made virtual art galleries with a pinterest-like showroom and buy options, print it on demand for those interested in decorating their house, or even enable digital streaming through Vitruveo.

The initial tendency would be to compare Vitruveo to established NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, which Nik says is ‘inaccurate’. The platform aims to vertically integrate all parts of the ecosystem almost like an ‘Apple product’. “That’s Vitruveo. We’re a vertically integrated ecosystem for creators starting with the blockchain and then moving up the stack with smart contracts, dapps, marketplaces, learning resources, workshops, communities, marketing and technology and legal frameworks highly optimised for creators,” explains Nik.

He says this ‘increases the scope for an artist’s work to be discovered and monetised thus enabling Vitruveo to achieve their mission - making it possible for all creators to have a sustainable income through their art.’ As the mission states, Vitruveo is focused on allowing more artists to make a sustainable income, while making art more accessible to mainstream users at a scale never before imagined.

“We’re taking the existing channels of sales and distribution of NFTs and decentralising them further, removing the middle-men,” says Nik.

Uplifting art integrity

Research suggests over 80% of artists around the world haven’t been onboarded into web3. Vitruveo believes lack of trust to be one of the major reasons. The company has implemented several features that promote authenticity and transparency on artist backgrounds as well as industry standard based metadata features using LinkedArt and on-chain licensings conforming to the creative commons standard and more.

“We aim to change the NFT standards which at the moment are very generic, not conforming to any existing traditional art standards,” says Nik. Vitruveo believes that apes and other collectors use NFT technology as an anchor to create communities or other utilities and are run by crypto natives, while the latter are newcomers in the space that have found a way to monetise their art by going directly to the buyers, eliminating art galleries and other middle men.

The company aims to eliminate the complicated jargon required for artists to onboard into web3, while helping them focus solely on art, as they believe the technology in the background is merely an ‘enabler’. Nik and his team at Vitruveo aim to onboard the ‘84%’ onto web3, helping them with a top-to-bottom approach to succeed, as the platform keeps building each day.