Not many NFT collections can say they've come back from a rocky mint to become one of the most lauded projects in the middle of a bear market… but the Kanpai Pandas can.
Originally set to mint in April of 2022, the Kanpai Pandas ran into some technical (smart-contract) difficulties on the day of their mint, and as you can imagine, it didn’t take long for declarations of a rug-pull to start rolling in. The Kanpai team reached out to Ice Bagz (a dedicated advisor) seeking some guidance, to which Ice Bagz laid out a few options, one being for him to take the project off their hands, and well, that’s precisely what happened: Ice Bagz took over the reins.
Retrospectively, (in Twitter spaces) Ice Bagz has admitted that he didn’t know exactly how we was going to revive the project he just took on; however, he was confident that the project/community contained potential (albeit in a state of stasis.)
Fittingly, shortly after Ice Bagz announcement that he’d taken over the Kanpai project, Bryan Pellegrino of LayerZero Labs reached out and offered a potential solution: Forget the original plan to mint out the whole collection on Ethereum, instead, go rogue and use LayerZero’s Omnichain technology (“an interoperability protocol that enables the realization of cross-chain applications with a low-level communication primitive”.)
And Omnichain they went — the Ethereum mints for Kanpai Pandas were limited to 2000, and the remaining 8000 Kanpai Pandas were set to be minted across seven different chains (Avalanche, Polygon, BNB, Fantom, Arbitrum, Optimism, and (a seventh chain that’s yet to be decided)).
Minting via the Omnichain route certainly created some revitalizing buzz around the project by adding another layer of value through the promise of interoperability, scalability, efficiency, etc. – but even then, the mint was progressing slowly.
This is where things get interesting because Ice Bagz didn't wait for the Pandas to mint out for approval to move forward – nope, he just plowed forward and started planning precedential events for early holders. In fact, in a Twitter spaces with Farokh, he estimated he’d probably committed 600k of his own money into planning the first few IRL Kanpai events.
And that skin-in-the-game attitude didn’t go unnoticed. To this day, Kanpai Pandas are known for being one of the most dedicated projects in terms of IRL/community events. Just to give you a feel: not only do they host some of the most aggressive Poker and Fantasy Football tournaments, but they have stacks of sports tickets to reward holders (thanks to their 15-year lease for a box suite at Allegiant Stadium,) and they’ve thrown numerous parties featuring big name acts (like Tyga and Rich The Kid at their all-holders Pandamonium festival).
Granted, it's hard to convey the success of IRL events through text, but you needn't look further than the Kanpai team to infer their level of expertise. Besides Ice Bagz (a successful, lifelong entrepreneur) they’ve got countless heavy hitters like Creative Director Cedric Guerin (who has over 15 years of experience with branding, events, and campaigns for companies like Alienware, BMW, Burger King, and Patron) as well as notable strategic advisors like Steve Espinosa (former Senior Tech Advisor at the Dept of Defense and Deputy Chief Digital Officer at The White House under the Obama and Trump administrations).
And folks in the NFT world are noticing. The Pandas minted out (as of September 2022), and went on to capture CT’s attention with a significant price rally at a time when most projects were tanking.
As of today, the Kanpai Pandas have done over 3300 Eth* in volume traded, and rest at ~1.6 Eth* floor.
We’ve denominated price and volume in terms of Eth because the majority of Pandas have since been voluntarily bridged back to Ethereum’s chain.
Aiming into the rest of 2023, the Pandas are poised (both literally and figuratively) for a lot more partying. In addition to updating their artwork and plans for hosting IRL events internationally, they are set to release their Panda Points system (aka PPDEX) in Q1. PPDEX simultaneously rewards and incentivizes panda holders by giving them opportunities to actively and passively accrue points (actively though bounties, community engagement, etc; and passively through soft-staking based on trait-rarity). The idea is that Panda holders can then either spend those panda points toward marketplace items (like merch) and event tickets (similar to American Express points), or they can even sell their Panda with its points for a premium.
Bear in mind, PPDEX is currently in beta testing (so the final implementation could function quite differently), but from a purely conceptual standpoint, if this clicks, it wouldn’t suprise us to see a lot of other NFT projects follow suit.
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