I started planning ZooVerse in November 2021, I got a small team together consisting of people I had met in the space, one of which being Josh (Got milk) who is still with us today !
I loved the idea of having gangster animals as the art, I thought the irony of them smoking and drinking with what was and still is going on with the environment was clever. The idea was to allow people to own an animal, without any real animals being harmed in the process.
At the time most projects were one base character with different traits, so we decided to go with four. I sent some ideas to our artists at the time, and the first drawing she sent back was the croc. I was at the gym when I first saw it and couldn't stop smiling to myself, it was exactly what I envisioned and i knew we had something special brewing.
At this point I had art, a small team and a vision for the project, but no idea how to build a community in the space. I figured the best people to ask were the ones who had done it. I created a script and messaged as many people as I could find (A lot of people in the space message me now with screenshots of my dm to them early on, which is always humbling to see) I messaged well over 250 people.
At this point I was working 16 hours a day on ZooVerse and whatever time I had left doing graphic design, it was hard to explain to my girlfriend why I was spending so much time on these ideas, there was no clear benefit and so it was a big risk to take, but I was having so much fun doing it. Then I got a reply to one of my DMs on my twitter, it was Mr_Hmmm, at the time the founder of one of the biggest projects in the space. He mentioned how he liked the idea and my business acumen and wanted to get on a call to discuss consulting further. We set up a meeting for the next day, I was very excited but very nervous, as soon as we got on the phone we clicked, he still loved the idea and wanted to consult on the project ! This was one of the biggest moments in the development of the project. I now had someone who had built a successful project to guide me through the process and to make sure I avoided any pitfalls.
The next call we got on was the first consulting session we had, it was about an hour long and was H talking through the main points of building a strong community. I wrote 9 double sides of A4 paper down and still have them today, they are like the bible to me. Everything started to make sense, I created the discord and we opened it to the public.
Around this time was when I met Shan, he was just about to launch "Godjira" and wanted to meet. We got on a call and he loved the idea too. The first week of the discord was slow, we had 10 or so people inside, but networking and building connections with them was amazing. Josh is in Australia so there was always someone for the community to talk to, it wasn't easy for a project with no "hype" to gain attention, hype on twitter, opening a locked discord for 5 mins, minting the next week and then disappearing the week after was the norm, people made their money and left. On the 26th of December (My girlfriends birthday) ZooVerse was shilled into a Singapore alpha discord, around 600 people joined in one night, I was celebrating with family and started to get hundreds of notifications on my phone from people joining, I ran to my car, got my laptop and started speaking to the new people who had joined, we finally had some growth and needed to make sure we maintained it.
Over the next month we kept growing and growing, we locked our discord at 2K members (about 4K on twitter) and started to create one of the strongest communities in the space. Anything anyone needed we were there, we would talk all day and night in chat, explaining our vision for the project and the art. Our core value being Community before team, team before founder. People loved how different it was, how close everyone felt and how people genuinely cared about each other. Of course there were people who didn't believe, why should they ? All odds were against us, but we were having too much fun to notice.