Jesse Metcalfe

From lecture hall to NFT millionaire

After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Jesse was looking for something that would lead him “down the path to more critical thinking – especially about technology and the future of design.” During his research, he came across UE’s Visual & Experience Design program. “After watching the video of Peter Crnokrak explaining the program and his personal portfolio, I was inspired and wanted nothing more than to learn from him,” Jesse says, explaining his decision to attend UE.

This has paid off, because parallel to his studies (“Visual & Experience Design” course) at the University of Europe for Applied Sciences, New Zealander Jesse Metcalf has built up the start-up “Non Fungible Labs” with a couple of friends – and developed it from a lecture hall into a million-dollar company in a very short time, hitting the bull’s eye with FLUFs, his “3D Rabbit NFT’s”.FLUFs were just the beginning, though. “We recently launched our second character called “Thingies” – a collection of 10,000 spiders with fur patterns created by an AI artist,” explains Jesse Metcalf. Despite his great entrepreneurial success, however, Jesse plans to continue studying at UE: “I firmly believe that I will continue studying. If I’m completely honest, I just started studying because I wanted to show my next employer something. Now I want to study because the things I learn every day from my professors and colleagues are invaluable. These learning experiences have helped me develop a strong understanding of how I fit into this crazy world.”

Prof. Dr. Peter Crnokrak and/or Jesse Metcalf would be pleased to be at your disposal for an interview/statement.

If you want to get more insights from Jesse´s study & business you are very welcome to read his interview:

1. Jesse, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. You haven’t had a moment’s peace since the summer of this year, because your start-up has gone through the roof. How did it come about?

Thanks for having me! Yeah, it has been a wild ride, nothing I could have ever imagined honestly. I co-founded Non-fungible labs this year after connecting with some incredibly talented Kiwis (New Zealanders) who were working in the crypto space. We saw a great opportunity in the NFT market, and decided to put our ideas and skills together to develop a market-leading product and the most inclusive community possible.

2. Why did you choose UE and the VED program?

Choosing the VED program at EU was an easy decision for me. I discovered the course after finishing my BFA and was looking for something that would lead me on a path of greater critical thinking, especially with regard to technology and the future of design. After seeing the video of Peter Crnokrak explaining the course and his personal portfolio, I was inspired and wanted nothing more than to learn from him.

3. You were already building your startup alongside your studies, how does it work to balance both?

Yeah, we were building projects around the same time I was applying for UE. I could have never anticipated how rapidly it would develop. I’ll admit it’s been very challenging, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m fortunate to have an incredibly supportive team to balance the workload and make it all possible.

4. A quick elevator pitch: how to explain your business to a layperson?

NFTs are the future of digital ownership. We’ve already witnessed numerous ways they have shifted the market and allowed creatives to take control of their assets through authentication. NF-Labs is focused on building a community around an NFT product with innovation, creativity and community at heart. We give owners and creators full license of their owned assets, allowing them to produce derivatives and monetise these creations. With the metaverse rapidly developing, our goal is to give people premium, versatile and desirable avatars to inhabit this space with, allowing unprecedented interactivity and functionality. We’re already developing this future utility with market-leading partners like Altered State Machine. It’s an incredibly exciting space.

5. Why did you specifically choose rabbits/hare?

I was chatting to my Business Partner Alex Smeele after discussing ideas around a generative art project. We wanted to create some kind of animal as our main character. I immediately thought of using one of my pet rabbits. His name is Foo, he is a flemish giant and tends to sit by me while I work. Their association with mystique and magic, from Alice in Wonderland to magicians and witchcraft also lends a fantasy element to our world, perfect for building our lore and making our world a place of fun and spontaneity.

6. You went from student to entrepreneur, are you going to continue studying?

I truly believe I will continue to study for the foreseeable future. If I’m being completely honest, I started studying simply as I wanted to have something to show off to my next employer. Now I want to study because the things I learn every day from my professors and peers are invaluable. These learning experiences have helped me to develop a strong understanding of how I fit into this crazy world.

7. What inspires you / what inspired you to start your business?

I’m inspired by creatives and like-minded people. Until recently, I was a self-taught artist and had no idea what I could learn from others. People are doing incredible things every day that no one sees; this company has allowed me to find others like me who want to create, express, connect, discover their place and make a living from it.

8. What’s next for you, what are your next goals? What comes after the Flufs?

FLUFs were always the beginning. We’ve now launched our second character called ‘Thingies’, a collection of 10,000 spiders with fur patterns created by an AI artist. They are the latest addition to FLUF World as we embark on our mission to further develop our community-driven digital space.

Do you have any press release related questions?

Please refer to Jessica Carolin Barthel-Jelkmann at jessica.barthel@gusgermany.de.


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