First created in 2014, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have risen from a little-known subset of the crypto space into a worldwide phenomenon that has captured the imagination of the public and media alike. Although NFT sales have risen steadily in 2014, the digital assets experienced a breakout year in 2021, growing by 400 times and reaching $13 billion in sales.
Recently, consulting firm Grand View Research estimated that the NFT market would reach a whopping $211.72 billion in value in 2030. While this rapid rise can be attributed to several different factors, many have pointed to the prevalence of NFT launchpads in the space as a key factor in the technology’s mainstream adoption.
NFT launchpads differ in regards to their size, audience, and area of focus; however, they all serve as cryptocurrency platforms that allow NFT creators to showcase their work and generate investment from interested parties that are attracted to their idea or concept.
NFT launchpads are so important because they serve as a “win-win” for project creators, NFT enthusiasts, and the NFT industry as a whole. While creators get to display their work in the early stages of their projects and gain exposure to large numbers of potential investors, these same investors get early access to NFT projects and can choose whether to deploy funds to help take the project to the next stage of development.
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Understanding the Basics of NFT Launchpads
Although there are many different types of NFT launchpads in existence, it’s important to keep in mind that not every creator’s work gets approved to be showcased on an NFT launchpad. When artists or creators send the details about their project idea to an NFT launchpad community, the group will complete a verification process to ensure that only highly curated NFT projects are selected.
Among other metrics, each NFT project is evaluated based on its suitability to that specific NFT launchpad, its long-term potential, and its attractiveness to the larger community.
A project that is accepted will gain the right to be showcased on the NFT launchpad platform, and the site will reach out to its community to advertise the project and ensure there is an audience in place for the full reveal. Almost every NFT project that finds its way onto an NFT launchpad is not on the market and has not been minted, which means that it has not been published on the blockchain and consequently has not been made available for purchase.
It can be helpful to think of NFT launchpads as crowdfunding platforms where artists can gain exposure to large audiences, market their work, and receive much-needed funds for its eventual launch. Many of the best NFT launchpads also enable the minting and storing of NFTs.
Because minting an NFT on a launchpad platform is often cheaper and more cost effective than using a smart contract and an NFT marketplace, many creators choose to launch their work directly on these sites. In these cases, the community not only gets the chance to discover a new project but gets early access to the presale when it’s finally released.
Ultimately, the primary purpose of an NFT launchpad platform is to help promising NFT projects succeed and generate revenue through early investment.
NFT Launchpad Fundraising Models?
As we previously mentioned, one of the top perks of a launchpad platform is the ability to raise funds for promising projects in the NFT space. Although these fundraising rounds help push the project forward, there are several different funding models that sites can use depending on their overall objective.
initial coin offering (ICO)
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have traditionally been the most preferred method of conducting a token sale. The first ever ICO was held by Mastercoin back in 2013 and served as the go-to fundraising method during the emergence of the crypto space. ICOs are still used today, but they occur less frequently and are not commonly used in connection with an NFT launchpad platform.
An ICO is defined by the fact that the organizers are responsible for almost everything related to the sale of the token. These activities may include gathering funds from investors, issuing tokens, creating a contract, marketing, ensuring that KYC requirements are met, and setting up exchange listings.
Once the sale has been concluded, the project organizers must make arrangements with exchanges to list their tokens.
Initial Exchange Offering (IEO)
An Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) differs from an ICO in that most of the fundraising process is handled by a centralized party, which in this case is an exchange platform. Binance was one of the first exchanges to offer token launches, with the famous site conducting a sale of the BitTorrent token in January 2019.
In an IEO, the organizers of the token sale can leverage the exchange by listing their digital token on the exchange immediately after it’s launched – giving them instant market access and exposure to thousands of investors. Exchange platforms also lighten the load on creators and organizers by taking on marketing responsibilities to ensure the launch attracts a significant number of investors.
The main downside of IEOs is their price tag. Token creators usually must pay enormous sums to list their digital items, with exchanges charging up to $250,000 for a listing.
INITIAL DEX OFFERING (IDO)
An IDO, also known as an initial dex offering, is a relatively new fundraising method and has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the emergence of decentralized exchanges. The first official IDO was conducted by the Raven Protocol on Binance DEX in June 2019, and today it is the offering model most closely associated with NFT launchpad platforms.
The IDO name is derived from the platform where the token or NFT is launched. Unlike ICOs and IEOs, where tokens are sold before the listing, IDO tokens are listed immediately on a decentralized exchange platform (DEX) before the initial sale.
IDO offerings would not be possible without the support of NFT launchpads, which allow retail investors to raise funds for projects by buying NFTs or tokens before they’re released on the exchange. Additionally, launchpads handle the vast majority of marketing activities associated with their offering and interact directly with their community of investors.
The Role of NFT Launchpads in the Digital Collectibles Market
NFT launchpads are crucial to the NFT space and have helped numerous fledgling NFT projects gain the funds and audience necessary to reach the next level. It is widely believed that NFT launchpads were vital to the success of Axie Infinity, Legends of Elumia, and STEPN – all of which are now household names in the crypto space.
Best NFT Launchpads
Below, we’ve included some of the best NFT launchpads around today and their roles in the digital collectibles market. This NFT launchpad list features launchpads that focus on a range of different topics, from art to trading cards, to gaming.
One of the top emerging launchpads in the space, FLOLiO’s NFT launchpad can be accessed through the site’s Creators Hub, which offers project developers a platform to track conversions and showcase their projects through advanced Web3 performance marketing tools.
Unlike many NFT launchpads, FLOLiO has a comprehensive affiliates program that connects creators and artists with other NFT enthusiasts who take an interest in their projects. Once artists create a campaign, they can leverage FLOLiO’s internal tools and tracking mechanisms to connect with affiliates and capture affiliate-driven sales through custom offers.
Affiliates can prove essential in amplifying sales and exposing projects to new communities. The beauty of this system is that creators can not only find collectors that love their work but only have to pay them only when they improve sales and successfully promote their project.
FLOLiO offers multiple services in addition to its launchpad product. These include metaverse and NFT analytics, a resources page to understand the industry in full, a detailed events section to help users engage with the strongest communities, customizable watchlists and dashboards, and reports that offer detailed market insights.
Widely regarded as the best NFT launchpad in the industry, NFTb states its mission is to “create a platform for creators to access opportunities in DeFi with the best user experience for anyone, anywhere.” The site is always looking for promising NFT projects to feature, and usually attracts projects that focus on artwork, games, trading cards, and other digital collectibles.
NFTb also has an investment arm, NFTb Labs, that partners and invests in notable NFT projects. NFTb Labs also support projects with marketing, growth, advisory, and NFTB token integration. So far, NFTb has seen unprecedented success, with many projects raising 6-figure funds and receiving widespread recognition in the crypto community.
Another site that makes our best NFT launchpad list, NFTPad is a launchpad for blockchain games, art, and decentralized finance (DeFi) that describes itself as a platform that “allows users to mint NFTs in minutes, auction them, or raise liquidity so that they may be traded on AMMs such as PancakeSwap and Uniswap.”
NFTPad’s interface display is intuitive and easy to follow, allowing users to view upcoming IDOs, INOs, and other fundraising projects, as well as their dashboard. The launchpad recently introduced strict rules through its ‘Safeguarded Launch Protocol’ to ensure that the community is protected from fraud, scams, and misleading marketing from projects.
The safeguard protocols currently include the following metrics: minimum liquidity, strict compliance with the vesting schedule and initial roadmap, full token audits, and other necessary regulations. Additionally, NFTPad has a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in place to vote on key platform decisions
Gamestarter and Enjin Starter
When it comes to gaming, Gamestarter and Enjin Starter are two of the best NFT launchpads in the space and offer frequent initial game offerings (IGOs) to community members. Each game launchpad provides complete support for new NFT games, including token launches and in-house NFT marketplaces.
Both sites are also dedicated to protecting investors and have multiple ways of providing liquidity. Additionally, each site has a native utility token that acts as the main cryptocurrency for its crypto ecosystem.
Crypto Exchange Launchpads
While independent launchpads are currently the most popular type of launchpads, it’s necessary to include some of the larger crypto exchanges on our best NFT launchpad list. Several large crypto exchanges host launchpads, including KuCoin, Binance, and Coinbase.
Although these sites have many different features and have not committed exclusively to their launchpad offering, their higher traffic means that projects will usually receive high exposure and consequently higher conversion rates. Crypto exchange launchpads have also had success issuing initial exchange offerings (IEOs) and initial decentralized exchange offerings (IDOs).
How NFT Launchpads Facilitate the Creation and Trading of Digital Assets
As previously mentioned, NFT launchpads are critical to the success of the NFT ecosystem and were instrumental in helping many of the top projects around today raise capital in their early stages. Launchpads serve both creators and investors, but they especially benefit creators by giving them the tools, resources, and funds to launch their digital assets.
For example, with NFT Launchpad development services, an artist can raise funds, market their NFT project, and then mint and sell NFTs to experience the profits and opportunities of NFTs with a unique portfolio for their creations. Throughout the past few years, there have been many innovations in both crowdfunding and marketing that have unleashed the potential of promising projects to the market.
It’s important to note that an NFT creator can accomplish all this without taking a significant risk if their project fails, allowing them to be more creative and explore different avenues for success.
The Advantages of Using an NFT Launchpad for Your Digital Collectibles
NFT launchpads come with many advantages for artists and investors, and a majority of enthusiasts agree that using an NFT launchpad platform, as opposed to directly listing on an NFT marketplace, provides higher returns on investments, lower transaction costs on NFT trades, and quicker community building.
Below, we’ve included a comprehensive list of the specific advantages that come from using an NFT launchpad platform for your digital collectibles.
- Access to an extensive investor pool – Helping investors participate in the emerging product ecosystem is one of the greatest advantages of an NFT launchpad. This not only allows investors to buy fancy NFTs at better prices but gives creators access to a bigger audience and the ability to make money before they finish the project.
- Customer and creator protection – Today’s economy is defined by inflation and volatility, and it seems not a day passes without some coverage of FTX’s collapse and the risks associated with blockchain technology. As a result, many early-stage investors are hesitant to support new projects in the crypto space. However, those wary of the risks can rest assured that an NFT project on a launchpad has passed a rigorous verification process to prove its qualifications and reliability. Consequently, investors do not need to worry that they will invest in a scam or buy stolen assets. Additionally, NFT creators can rest assured that their marketing partners have their best interests at heart and that hackers will not breach their projects.
- Fair NFT distribution during the initial token offering – The beauty of an NFT launchpad’s fundraising system is that it is both decentralized and equitable, meaning that no single community member gets an unfair advantage when raising money. This system, also known as a decentralized auction solution, either occurs as a pure lottery of equal chances for all participants, or a lottery where the chances depend on the staked bet. In the case of a staked bet, an individual has a higher chance to win an NFT the more cryptocurrency the participant has staked – ensuring that there are supporting incentives for greater risk. These formats guarantee fair NFT distribution among investors and contrast with the token distribution on NFT marketplaces, where the offering is often centered among several of the wealthiest users.
- Long-term success – To understand why a project will find greater long-term success on existing launchpads as opposed to an NFT marketplace, we need to review how native tokens work. To participate in an early NFT sale on a launchpad, investors buy the platform’s native token, lock it in a smart contract, and then receive a ticket for participation in the NFT sale. If a platform becomes popular and the price of its native token rises, token holders will realize a satisfying return on their investment and will be inclined to participate in the platform for longer periods.
- Global reach – NFT launchpads, like all projects on the blockchain ecosystem, offer the ability to participate in launches and fundraising regardless of an investor’s location. This means that NFT launchpads have a worldwide reach since anyone with an internet connection can theoretically access the blockchain.
- Instant liquidity – liquidity is defined as “a market’s feature whereby an individual or firm can quickly purchase or sell an asset without causing a drastic change in the asset’s price.” Digital assets on NFT launchpads certainly fit this definition, meaning that community members or token holders can buy or sell NFTs rapidly without causing a substantial price drop.
- Native TokensAs previously mentioned native tokens play an outsized role in NFT launchpads. These coins or tokens fuel the ecosystem as transactions must be completed using the native currency. Because of this, NFT creators have a built-in token development option that facilitates ease in fundraising and makes token staking reward benefits possible to end-users. Many of these native tokens utilize a multi-chain support technique. Multi-chain refers to coins (or tokens) available simultaneously on multiple chains (networks). For example, the MATIC token is supported on the Ethereum network, MATIC (Polygon network), or BSC (Binance Smart Chain).
The Future of Digital Collectibles and the Rise of NFT Launchpads
NFT launchpads have already made immense contributions to the NFT industry, and the future of these platforms looks bright. While there are many exciting up-and-coming launchpads on the horizon, Launchpad Luna stands to have the greatest impact.
In late 2021, venture accelerators Brinc and digital entertainment, blockchain, and gamification company Animoca joined forces to create Launchpad Luna, a launchpad that serves as a decentralized incubator for some of the most promising NFT projects in the space.
Early-stage projects and startups accepted into the acceleration program receive practical training, a launchpad, and investments of up to $500,000 (or equivalent) in exchange for equity and/or tokens in the project.
These projects present NFT innovation in the fields of culture, art, entertainment, media, gaming, streaming, collectibles, insurance, finance, and data management. DeFi and additional verticals will be added at a later date.
Launchpad Luna has marketing partners leading some of the most well-known names in the NFT space, including AppWorks, Blockparty, Dapper Labs (the company behind CryptoKitties, NBA Top Shot, and Flow Blockchain), EllioTrades, Featured by Binance, and Gabby Dizon (co-founder of Yield Guild).
Recently, Brinc announced the launch of new accelerator programs focused on Climate Tech, Educational Technology (EdTech), and MedTech & Healthcare, which will commence in Spring 2023. Additionally, Brinc added crypto startup “One other-1” to the 32 incubator startups in its incubator program.
NFT launchpad vs marketplace: What’s the difference?
NFT launchpads are commonly confused with NFT marketplaces as both provide the option for an NFT project to mint, sell, and trade NFTs. However, there are key differences between the two platforms.
The main differentiator is that the projects that find their way onto launchpad platforms are still in the early phases and not fully built out. This is essential to give the launchpad community members the option to invest in the project before it goes mainstream.
While this means that investors on an NFT launchpad incur more risk, they also will see greater returns if the project succeeds in the long run. It’s important to remember that buying an item from an NFT project on a marketplace, like OpenSea or NiftyGateway, also incurs risk because the price of the item bought could fall after a purchase.
Key features of a good NFT launchpad
NFT launchpads vary in the types of projects they support, their audience size, and their fundraising process. However, every successful launchpad must have certain features to ensure a seamless launch experience for creators and investors. Below, we’ve listed the features of a good NFT launchpad so you can know which ones to avoid or join.
Showcase – Every NFT launchpad needs a showcase, a display on the site that allows community members to see the details of the NFT projects being launched. A showcase should include the project title, a brief description, its category (games, art, music, etc.), and status (active, finished, planned, etc.). An image of the NFT logo is typically attached.
Creating a project – This feature is for artists interested in having their projects launched on the site. Ideally, the “creating a project” section should let potential creators apply for a listing and provide a description of their NFT. If this section isn’t straightforward and intuitive, potential creators might be dissuaded from using the site.
NFT projects audit – This is a must for every site as it informs the community of the criteria that must be met to accept creator applications. Most sites include a checklist and detailed instructions as inspectors perform rigorous scanning to weed out weak projects.
Marketing instruments – Poor marketing techniques are one of the main reasons that NFT launchpads occasionally fail. A launchpad that doesn’t generate enough attention for its upcoming NFT projects will see creators migrate elsewhere for an audience. When marketing, tags, social network links, and banners, should be used, as well as free and premium tiers to create an incentive to join.
Cryptocurrency wallet integration – A top-tier site should be able to accommodate the main cryptocurrency wallets in existence. These wallets include MetaMask, Enjin, Trust Wallet, Coinbase, AlphaWallet, and other major brands.
Payment instruments – In addition to cryptocurrency wallet integration, a top-tier NFT launchpad should offer integration with banks and payment systems to allow users to manage both cryptocurrencies and fiat.
Native token – NFT launchpads that distribute tokens, which function as a virtual currency for funding NFT crowd sales, are preferred over sites that use standard cryptocurrency. Native tokens usually have a burning option and can be listed on cryptocurrency exchanges.
Staking – Most top-tier launchpads allow their users to stake their tokens, which means that users can earn rewards by holding the platform’s native token.
Security and compliance of NFT launchpads
No article on NFT launchpads would be complete without mentioning security and compliance, a subject that has become all too real for members of the crypto community following the FTX scandal.
As with any financial instrument, there is an investment risk associated with the NFT launchpads. Those who choose to buy a site’s native token or invest in new projects should realize that the prices of the assets in question could fall depending on the project itself or on external market conditions.
Therefore, it’s always important to proceed with caution before making a big bet on a project associated with an NFT launchpad. Retail investors should always proceed with extreme caution before participating in any of the presales going on in the launchpads.
Despite the risks, investors can have peace of mind that the projects that pass the final selection have been rigorously vetted.
Avoiding Worthless Tokens
As NFTs can be made by literally anyone, there are many worthless NFT collections on the market. While these are more likely to be found on NFT marketplaces that lack a vetting process, members of NFT launchpads should still keep their eyes out for projects that seem too good to be true or are claiming something they cannot follow through on.
Additionally, many malicious agents can impersonate famous NFT artists and peddle fake NFTs using their names. There are also other cybersecurity issues. Many investors just starting in the crypto community report getting hacked because they clicked on an unknown link or conducted a transaction with an individual outside the blockchain.
Buying a cold wallet, keeping your seed phrase safe, and avoiding clicking on suspect links are all steps users can take to minimize their chances of being hacked.