GuardianLink CEO Discusses NFT Strategy and Execution Work it Does for Pepsi, Cadbury, and LA Times
When it comes to NFT marketplaces in Asia, they don't get much bigger than Jump.trade which claims to be the biggest of them all. Jump.trade is just one of the businesses operated by the site's parent GuardianLink which was founded in 2016. GuardianLink also works with some of the world's biggest brands on their NFT strategies. To find out more about the enterprises that GuardianLink is working with and what those brands are doing with NFTs, Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind interviewed GuardianLink co-founder and CEO Ramkumar Subramaniam at the NFT.NYC 2023 Conference in New York City.
Among the enterprise brands that GuardianLink has worked with are Pepsi, snacks and candies conglomerate Mondelēz International, and the Los Angeles Times. For example, it worked with Mondelēz International to develop Cadbury Gems — charitable NFTs for its Cadbury chocolate brand (founded in 1824 by John Cadbury)—the proceeds of which are donated to support the educational needs of underprivileged children. Following the success of that program, GuardianLink has also worked on an NFT program for Chips Ahoy cookies, another one of Mondelēz's hugely famous brands.
During the interview, Subramaniam also explained what GuardianLink has done for Pepsi (for its sugarless Black Pepsi Brand) and the LA Times (for its Super Bowl 2022 promotions), and how the India-based company is using its experience to expand its own Cricket Metaverse while helping its big brand customers launch their own immersive Web3 ecosystems.
By David BerlindPublished:April 20, 2023
David Berlind: Today is April 13th, 2023. This is the Blockchain Journal Podcast. I'm David Berlind and with me today in New York City at the NFT New York City conference is Ramkumar Subramaniam. He is the co-founder and he's also the CEO of a company called GuardianLink. You guys are based in India, but you have a global footprint and you are working with a variety of very big brands to do what?
Ramkumar Subramaniam: So we work with these brands to help them launch NFTs. This is right from the ideation to creation of those NFTs and help them market them as well. So basically we are moving the brands who are in Web2 right now to Web3.
Berlind: So what are the brands that you guys are working with right now?
Subramaniam: Pepsi is one of the brands that we work with. We have worked with Cadbury, we have worked with LA Times. We have worked with the entire Mondelēz Group and a couple of other brands as well.
Berlind: Mondelēz, that's Cadbury's —
Subramaniam: Cadbury's parent company.
Berlind: And what are the other brands that are in the Mondelēz group that you are working with?
Subramaniam: Chips Ahoy! and a couple of other brands inside Mondelēz.
Berlind: All right. So let's talk about some of the different implementations you're working on with those brands. Let's start with, maybe, which one do you want to start with? What one do you like best?
Subramaniam: So I'll tell you what we did with Cadbury. For Cadbury, we went ahead and provided charity-based NFT, where kids artwork was converted as NFTs and we sold them in our marketplace, also in another launchpad. So you go ahead and buy that NFT and whatever money that is collected goes back to the charity for poor kids — for their education.
Berlind: All of the money that's collected?
Subramaniam: All of the money that's collected.
Berlind: Amazing. So a very altruistic effort there.
Subramaniam: Yeah, thank you. And we also did something with Pepsi. With Pepsi [it] was not a charitable thing. It was more on just promoting the brand Black Pepsi with—
Berlind: What is Black Pepsi? I'm not even familiar with that.
Subramaniam: Black Pepsi is sort of like a sugar-free drink of Pepsi. So they went ahead and dropped seven NFTs. They partnered with an artist and created these NFTs, and they did a campaign around the concept of Black Pepsi and asked people to create videos and stuff and post it on social media. I believe we gathered about 1.1 billion views and seven different videos were chosen and all of the creators were given out these NFTs.
Berlind: At the end of the day, how did that benefit the Pepsi brand?
Subramaniam: Reach, right? Good PR, saying that Pepsi's gotten into NFTs and stuff, and they're adopting Web3. Again, every other brand out there [they] want to make sure they sound cool for the next generation, right? Because that's the next buying power, and they want to make sure that they are around the space that next generation loves. So when you're talking about NFTs, metaverse, they're going to attract that crowd. So that's one of the reasons Pepsi wanted to do this. They got the PR for it, they got the branding for it. Another one, they want to do a campaign around the black NFT and this was one of those campaigns.
Berlind: You also run a site marketplace where these NFTs are available and that is?
Subramaniam: It's called Jump.trade. It's an NFT marketplace. We have these NFTs available there. Apart from that, gaming NFTs that are available. We have about 120,000 active traders for trading in this marketplace.
Berlind: And I understand that it's the largest NFT marketplace in Asia, is that right?
Subramaniam: One of the largest in Asia and the largest in Polygon right now.
Berlind: Okay. So are all of your projects on Polygon?
Subramaniam: I mean, almost every other project are on Polygon. Yes.
Berlind: And what was the reasoning for choosing Polygon versus all of the other chains?
Subramaniam: The cost is obviously very low and we have very good technical support from them and they're also from India, so we support them.
Berlind: Okay. The other services you provide, if we look at Jump.trade, right, I see that there's also some metaverse stuff going on. You guys have some sort of virtual cricket games, something like that. It's kind of cool, but is that something that your experience in that area you bring to these enterprise brands? Because right now, they're just doing with NFTs, but maybe at some point in the future, based on your experience building some sort of immersive metaverse-type experience, that will be something that those big brands will have an interest in and will do something with?
Subramaniam: Yeah, so Pepsi is buying a land in our metaverse game and they're building an experience center inside that. And there are a couple of other brands that also that are coming on board. And the reason they want to do that, again, is they want to be part of the Gen Z crowd and they want to create experiences in gaming and other [things]. They've seen what happened with Roblox and Fortnite and all that. So they want to make sure that they have those kind of experiences for their brand. And apart from that, we work with various firms as well, enterprise firms like ThoughtWorks and all of that. And they've also built their experience centers over here. Yeah, so the idea is to create cool experiences for brands inside our metaverse and this metaverse allows multiple games. One of them is the racing game and there is a cricket game that we are working on.
Berlind: Will the people who purchased NFTs from Pepsi, if Pepsi buys a land in your metaverse, will they be able to exchange digital assets, like the NFTs they've purchased or other forms of digital asset?
Subramaniam: That's actually a good idea. We have not thought about that, but that is something we'll be working on in the future. So right now, it'll be more on branding and experiences. Later on, we'll bring in small mini-games inside Pepsi Center, so small games that you can experience about Pepsi and then you can get coupons or you can get Pepsi NFT or some other rewards from the Pepsi ecosystem. All that will be done.
Berlind: What's the LA Times doing with NFTs?
Subramaniam: So for [the] LA Times, that was done last year. During the last year's Super Bowl, we went ahead and created Super Bowl-based NFTs. These are artworks that is created and was sold as NFT drop and we provide their launchpad, the ideation, and the marketing of that.
Berlind: And now you guys are based in India. How was it that you managed to close business with an American company like the LA Times, Pepsi, or any of the other companies for that matter?
Subramaniam: So the dev team is based out of India because India is a development powerhouse. But in a business team and myself, we are all always traveling. We go to people, we go to events, and we meet people. And I'm always traveling between India, US, Singapore. So that's how, yeah.
Berlind: Okay. Well, Ramkumar Subramaniam, CEO, co-founder of Guardian Link, thanks very much for joining us on the Blockchain Journal Podcast.
Subramaniam: Thanks a lot for the time and it was great here and good to meet you as well.
Berlind: Nice to meet you.