For all Web3, crypto and NFT enthusiasts, Azuki is a project that requires no introduction. It is one of the few elite ‘blue-chip’ NFT projects, and has inspired an entire wave of anime NFT projects and innovation. Azuki’s recent airdrop of the BEANZ collection made shockwaves in the NFT community, and rejuvenated the anime meta.
This WGMI 101 takes a closer look at the Azuki project to provide tips and insights for both NFT beginners and more experienced traders.
- Beginners: This article will get you up to speed on one of the most discussed and significant projects in the NFT space.
- Experienced traders: This WGMI 101 will provide insights to help you identify signs of blue-chip material when researching potential NFTs to add to your collection.
What is Azuki?
Azuki is a 10,000 supply anime art style profile picture project on the Ethereum network. Azuki’s art is very appealing, just one look and it is easy to see how impressive, ‘clean’ and attractive each individual piece is. Visually, Azuki’s art is some of the most stunning and emotionally enticing in the entire NFT space. For hardcore anime fans, Azuki is the first NFT project to represent their culture which provides a strong sense of lore. Each Azuki NFT has a variety of unique properties which are selected from: type, hair, face, neck, eyes, ears, mouth, headgear, special, clothing, offhand and background. A combination of these features, or possessing certain ones determine the rarity, and ultimately the value of the NFT. Azuki claim to be “skaters of the internet” and their steezy art style certainly represents that. On January 12th 2022, Azuki took the NFT market by storm. On launch day, Azuki implemented an innovative sales mechanic which caught the attention of many. Unlike the standard NFT mint method, Azuki minted in 3 stages: Dutch Auction, Whitelist sale, and public sale. Since then, Azuki has been at the forefront of the NFT market, storming the charts and flipping several other ‘blue chip’ NFT projects on its way up. It’s safe to say that Azuki has achieved the elite ‘blue chip’ NFT status. Azuki currently has 279.6k followers on Twitter and many members in their Discord server. With a massive floor price of 24.85 Ethereum, there is no debating whether Azuki has become one of the most important players in the NFT space.
Every aspect of Azuki is flawless. From browsing through their slick website, scrolling through their Twitter and hanging out in their Discord, everything is well presented and professionally done. They even have several soundtracks to fit the visuals when browsing their website. Azuki’s mainstream marketing and branding are executed to perfection. So who are the masterminds responsible for Azuki?
The founding team behind Azuki go by the name of Chiru Labs. Chiru Labs is a Los Angeles based organization claiming to be “building for the Metaverse”. They are made up four individuals who go by the aliases of: Zagabond, Location Tba, 2pm.flow and HoshiBoy. In addition, Azuki’s artist goes by the alias Steamboy and is named Arnold Tsang in real life.
The team’s experience
Digging into the team’s experience, it appears that they are stacked. Location Tba claims to be an “Ex-Facebook engineer”. Steamboy is the former Character Art Director for popular game Overwatch. Zagabon is a reformed DeFi builder with previous experience in the tech industry. 2Pm.flow worked previously at Google and HoshiBoy did Y-Combinator twice. To top it off, each individual’s personal branding on Twitter is on point (bonus points for this). Azuki’s team ooze professionalism and are proven – holders can rest assured that they are in great hands.
Azuki’s ‘Mindmap’ and Vision
Now that we understand the potential of Azuki’s team, let’s explore what their goals are.
Vision and Value
Azuki intends to create the world’s largest decentralized brand from the Metaverse that is built and owned by the community, for the community.
At the core of any good NFT project is a strong community. The overall value of any NFT project is determined not just by market consensus, but also community consensus. Therefore, having a solid community is the foundation of any successful project and Azuki certainly has a solid community.
To ensure that Azuki’s community building platform is a pleasant space, they have a full time moderation team in their Discord. The team is very welcoming and friendly towards existing and new members. The Hall Of Art channel is full of appreciative fans posting art to show their love, loyalty and dedication to the project.
Azuki has absolutely ‘hit the nail on the head’ in terms of community building.
Azuki plans to be an internationally recognised brand in both the digital and physical world. The project has already established a high-profile name for itself through partnerships, street wear, collectibles and real-life events. The Azuki Garden Party at NFTLA is evidence of the Azuki vision starting to come to life.
What else is planned?The Azuki team are more than just optimistic visionaries, they have already executed on many of their goals. For holders, this only ingrains more faith in the entire Azuki ecosystem. Holders will feel encouraged that the team will be able to deliver on their future plans, such as exploring the idea of becoming a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) and implementing a $BEAN token to be utilized in the Azuki-verse. Currently, Azuki is investigating sustainable token economics, legal factors and feasibility first. It is a very exciting time to be an Azuki holder, but what utilities can holders access now?
What is Azuki’s Utility?
The Garden (Metaverse)
One of the main utilities that is offered to holders is a ticket to their Metaverse called “The Garden”. The Garden is where members will have access to merchandise, art collectibles, NFT drops, live events and other features.
Access to an exclusive network (and events)
NFTs are all about verified ownership, and many people love the exclusivity and status of being part of a members only ‘club’. Azuki holders are highly respected in the NFT space, and many traders aim to attain an Azuki to gain access to this exclusive club.
The art itself is a utility, the way that it elicits feelings and emotions from holders is special. The ultimate utility of an NFT project is to create an emotional connection to bond with the holder. This makes it far less likely that a holder would be willing to sell. As a result of this, low supply and high demand drives up the value.
A common way for projects to provide value to their holders is through airdrops. As we will explore in the next section, Azuki airdropped two BEANZ NFTs to each Azuki holder – at the current floor price of 5 ETH, this equates to airdropping 10 ETH worth of NFTs to each holder. The potential for Azuki to make any future airdrops is a clear and significant benefit of being an Azuki holder.
BEANZ and Bobu: The Azuki Ecosystem
Bobu the Bean Farmer
Azuki launched a collection named Bobu, the Bean Farmer on March 6th 2022.
To create the Bobu project, Azuki #40 was fractionalized into 20,000 tokens using Fractional.art. What this means is, Azuki #40 was locked up in a vault and the Bobu tokens were created from it in order to represent it. Owning a Bobu grants holders ownership of a small percentage of the Azuki #40 NFT. In return, Bobu holders can participate in decentralized decision making, governance and participate in voting within the ecosystem. Azuki implemented this as an experiment of decentralization of intellectual property and to grant more people access to the closed Discord channel “The Garden”. The hope is that Azuki will be able to hand over control and power to the Bobu holders over time.
To demonstrate the possibilities of Bobu and decentralized governance, on April 23rd 2022, Azuki’s Bobu joined NASA and SpaceX on the Crew-4 mission to the international space station. Bobu has become the first NFT ever to be sent to space via a Ledger. Bobu is Azuki’s lower range entry point and they currently sit on a floor price around 0.15 Ethereum.
When introducing the first Azuki airdrop, Azuki played an April fools prank on their holders. On April 1st 2022, Azuki holders were airdropped a crate NFT. When the crate was opened, there remained a pile of dirt. The dirt eventually transformed into a bean pod before evolving into cute Azuki bean characters. These bean characters are named BEANZ Official, they currently sit at a floor price of 5 Ethereum, making them a mid ranged entry point into the Azuki ecosystem. Holding a BEANZ NFT grants access to the “can of beans” holders only channel in Discord, merchandise, collectible drops and more.
BEANZ is a brand icon for Azuki, and they appear as cute sidekick characters which are rumored to be a perfect canvas for future collaborations. We know that they have the choice of being “paired with Azuki NFTs”, or to “journey fourth alone”. Azuki is yet to clarify what this means, but based on their previous innovation with the ERC721A token, we’re all betting that it’s going to be big.
The BEANZ collection is yet to be revealed, so we don’t know the true potential of the collection or the exact appearance yet. What we do know is the color (blue and red) and personalities of the first two beans to be announced, Toshi and Gus. Toshi is said to not “follow any rules given to him”, and Gus “can’t seem to stay out of trouble”. While some commentators are disappointed with the prospects of the BEANZ collection, much of the community is eagerly waiting to meet them.
Crunching the data, if we break down each collection and calculate the price percentages, Bobu makes up around 1%, BEANZ around 20%, and Azuki around 79%. This distribution is very similar to Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Bored Ape Kennel Club. Will this become what we see regularly amongst ‘blue chip’ NFTs?
How did Azuki attain blue-chip status?
Leading the Anime meta
Like all other NFTs that have reached ‘blue chip’ status, Azuki was the first (of its kind) anime art style project. Their launch influenced the entire market. When a project triggers many ‘copycat’ derivatives projects, it is a good indicator that it is cruising towards ‘blue chip’ status. This is exactly what happened in Azuki’s case. Upon launch, the domino effect presented itself. The overall narrative shifted, anime projects started popping up and trending rapidly. On a daily basis, there were derivatives and anime projects being deployed left right and center, and many of them with great success. It has been several months since the launch of Azuki and we are seeing many anime art style projects trending to this day. Being the first anime art style NFT project, Azuki was destined for success. Anime as a genre has a hard core existing fan base globally, but especially in Japanese and other Asian communities. This means that there was an existing target audience for Azuki to appeal to from the beginning. Plenty of anime consumers who previously were not interested in NFTs, now had a familiar entry point. Azuki was able to act as a Web2 > Web3 bridge for anime fans. This was used to their advantage to create an immense amount of hype which almost always can contribute to success in the NFT space.
Innovative sales mechanic
Another factor that makes Azuki significant is the innovative sales mechanic that they implemented. Chiru Labs was the inventor and first user of the ERC721A token standard which differed from the typical ERC721. The ERC721A sale mechanic allowed buyers to mint multiple NFTs at once. As a result, overall gas fees paid by the community as a collective was much lower. This is yet another example of Azuki prioritizing the community. In addition, the minting duration time period was reduced and more efficient. Now, most projects use this method and it is industry standard, making Chiru Labs and Azuki innovative leaders in the space. Azuki tokenomics and mint strategy also differed from the norm. Unlike other projects, Azuki minted in three stages. These were:
- Dutch Auction
- Whitelist Sale
- Public Sale
Azuki’s distribution from the mint allocated 1,100 NFTs for Whitelist (at 0.5 ETH) and 8,700 NFTs for Dutch Auction and public sale. The Dutch Auction was implemented with a price reduction model. The idea was for the price per NFT to be lowered after a set time had passed. This continued until the price had reached the minimum limit. The model process was for Azuki to start minting at 1 Ethereum and drop by 0.05 Ethereum every twenty minutes until they reach 0.15 Ethereum. The final Azuki piece was minted on January 15th 2022, however, it did not have the chance to reduce in price at all – all Azukis sold out at 1 Ethereum. Many NFT projects have since copied this mode, again demonstrating Azuki’s influence on the market as a whole.
Flawless marketing and branding
Azuki’s team is highly skilled in mainstream marketing and branding. The communication from the team to the wider audience is spectacular, not just pre-launch, but still presently. Azuki’s marketing team are very good at connecting with a variety of consumers regardless whether they are NFT enthusiasts or not. Some examples of this were seen at recent events, such as the Azuki Garden party Las Angeles and visual collaboration with Epik High at Coachella. Azuki has also partnered with SpaceX and NASA to send a Bobu NFT to space. This suggests that Azuki are using the more eyes on them the better game plan, and they’re doing an incredible job.
Azuki’s Price Action and Analytics
Azuki’s distribution from the mint allocated 1,100 NFTs for Whitelist and 8,700 NFTs for Dutch Auction and public sale. 200 tokens were kept for the team. The Whitelist price was 0.5 Ethereum and the Dutch Auction price was 1 Ethereum. From this, the total revenue generated by Azuki upon mint out was 9,250 Ethereum. If we do the math and convert Ethereum into $USD (at its current value), that’s a staggering $27,489,242.50.
Remember, Azuki sold out in just 3 minutes. There is no doubt that Azuki got off at a flying start, but how has Azuki performed since then? Since launch, Azuki has been paper handed, flipped and traded a lot. At the time of writing, there has been a total volume of 190k Ethereum traded on secondary market places, primarily OpenSea. Azuki royalty fee is 5% of each transaction, meaning that from secondary market sales alone, the team would have generated 9,500 Ethereum in royalties. It is safe to say the team have definitely been eating well these last few months. Immediately after Azuki minted out, there was immense trading volume on OpenSea which has continued to this day. I bet those (AKA me) who sold early deeply regret it now. Over time, Azuki has experienced a steady upwards trend in price action. There have been certain events which have acted as a catalyst for ‘rocket ship’ like pump in price action. Most recently is when Taiwanese singer songwriter Jay Chou purchased an Azuki and flexed it on Instagram earlier in April. In a matter of a few days, Azuki’s floor price flew from below 20 Ethereum to an all time high of 40 Ethereum. What is the takeaway from this? Never doubt or fade the power of famous people or influencers purchasing or shilling an NFT. Since the run up, Azuki has experienced a slight correction and dipped by about 25% – 30% from the all time high, even despite some big announcements. The jury is out on the reason for this. Some analysts speculate that the anime narrative is fading, some think that the announcements were underwhelming and others blame the overall market sentiment.
Regardless, Azuki’s near future performance will massively influence the rest of the market, especially in relation to the anime narrative. The trend may shift soon so we must observe closely.
What Are The Next Steps For Azuki?
While little has been confirmed, there sure is a lot of speculation. Azuki claims to be “in progress” or “exploring” in many aspects of their Mindmap.
Speculating into the distant future, it is unclear exactly where Azuki will go and what heights they will reach. Questions are being asked such as, will Azuki create an anime series or collaborate with existing anime brands? Will Azuki follow BAYC and announce a land sale? Will they release a $BEAN token? Regardless, it currently appears that Azuki’s future is bright. We are all excited for what is to come.
If you’ve made it this far, well done! You are now an official Azuki black belt. Now that you have discovered that there are accessible entry points for all, might you just take the plunge and join them?