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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

Getting Children Hooked on NFTs

Content and tech startup Toekenz Collectibles will launch a family-focused NFT application aimed at children later this year.

Beginning last July, the application, called Toekenz, was made available by invitation only. The Toekenz app features a marketplace in which families can buy and sell non-fungible tokens, engage in“Play-to-Collect” gaming and “Learn-to-Earn” curricula.

In November, Toekenz Collectibles announced a partnership with The Pinkfong Co., the entertainment company behind the popular Baby Shark, to launch a Baby Shark digital collection and blockchain-based game on the company’s app.

This announcement came on the heels of Toekenz Collectibles announcing its licensing partnership with Mattel Inc. and Boat Rocker.

“In addition to creating the world’s first NFT marketplace for kids, we’re also creating the world’s first intergenerational decentralized autonomous organization, a place for kids to get involved with finance and democracy through NFTs,” Neale Godfrey, advisor to Toekenz Collectibles and chairperson of the Children’s Financial Network, said in a statement.

Iris Ichishita

Woodland Hills-based Toekenz was co-founded last year by digital content creative Iris Ichishita and cryptocurrency expert James Runnels for parental-controlled gaming and a marketplace designed to prepare the next generation for Web3.

Runnels is co-founder and chief executive of financial services company Digital Prime Technologies, which helps its clients enter the digital asset space. He was interested in finding a way to make this technology accessible and understandable to his children and family, and he came up with Toekenz.

“Over the last year of building and pitching Toekenz, the conversation has totally changed,” Ichishita, Toekenz’s chief executive, said. “It started with explaining the basics of what an NFT is. What is blockchain? What are digital communities? All of these things were just completely foreign concepts a year ago, and now I’m having conversations with parents, with licensors who are very in-the-know. There’s a certain amount of understanding; The brand licensors positions have definitely changed from, ‘What is this?’ to ‘We need this, we just need to figure out how.’”

Ichishita said the application was built on the concept that children learn through free and guided play.

“It was really a guiding principle for me that in order for kids to understand these new and emerging technologies in Web3, they need to do it in a hands-on way that of course is safe and provides complete visibility to their parents and to make it really fun and engaging, to involve some of the characters that they know and love the best,” Ichishita said.

According to Ichishita, the company makes revenue from the shares with brand licensors on the sales of digital collectibles.

“As we gain a critical mass of users, there will be the ability to have different partners come in through listing and promotional fees to start having a presence on Toekenz and being able to support and share their brands, interactive experiences (and) characters through these highly interactive … activations on Toekenz,” Ichishita said.

Ichishita explained that two challenges in building out this platform are getting over the learning curve that comes with Web3 and proving that it is safe for families to use.

“Every conversation, whether it’s with an investor, a licensee, a partner, or a family, has an element of education to it; helping them understand the potentials of the technologies and the fact that blockchain is going to continue to revolutionize every aspect of our digital lives,” Ichishita explained. “Some of the other challenges are just showing that we can do this in a in a safe way. There’s been a lot of turmoil in crypto and in NFT (last year), and I think it’s that part of the onus is on us to explain how what we’re building is different, is less speculative, more stable and safe. A lot of the different culprits from the crypto winter, those weren’t priorities for them. It was a highly speculative, very volatile and an unchecked, unregulated space. We’re basically here to change that.”

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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