Tell us about Asylum. How was the idea of the project born, how long did it go, and what inspired and inspires?
The idea of the project in one form or another was born a long time ago. I’ve loved games since I was a kid, and ever since I started to get into development, my favorite direction has always been some kind of simulation of what’s out there in the real world. And the games were perfect for that. It’s a place where you can build processes that look like the real world but at the same time expand them as you wish, where you are the architect of this world.
And the idea of metaverse has been capturing for a very long time since I read (yes, read, not watched) «Ready Player One», all these things have also had a strong impact, showing the representation of such a virtual world, in which the boundaries for creativity and creation are open, and it’s not just one closed project, but a vast expanding ecosystem. For a long time, I saw it as more of a fantasy that might be waiting for us in the future. But at some point, I realized that in blockchain, using NFT technology and decentralization, it’s possible to create something similar — to create a framework on which the future metaverse will be built, where games will be interconnected into a single virtual space.
And one of the things that were so inspiring about this is that, despite the technology that blockchain offers, no one has done this so far, no one has yet fully implemented this idea. I’ve always had a vision in my head that this idea is possible. And many of the projects that call themselves metaverses are not metagames yet — these are just more expanded versions of games. Although certainly, you can see that the market has a request to have a real metaverse. And the main thing is a technical opportunity to shoot it down. It is a difficult task, but it is achievable.
And it’s exciting to be a pioneer in this direction, to be inspired by the understanding that you’re making the evolution of gaming in a way that makes it better, makes it more accessible to people, and opens up more space for creativity and creative ideas.
How did you decide to leave development completely and focus on the project?
First of all, I did not leave the development completely. In many places, I understand the technics, and I'm still a leader in architecture development. I'm pretty deep on the project.
Why did I shift my focus from development to building a company? Again, I love development, especially architecture, design, and integrated systems. But at some point, I realized that the process of building a company and a product, it’s not less interesting story than complex code. So now I concentrate much more on «business» issues, without missing the control of the pace and depth of the technical part.
I look at it as programming, but at a higher level.
The solution came because for me it is a natural next round. After all, you want to implement something of your own in life, to be the creator of what is «rushes» from inside, and not those who implement other people’s ideas, to give impetus to important inner things.
Why was the Polkadot ecosystem chosen? What opportunities does it offer for Asylum?
The Polkadot ecosystem because this system, to my mind, is one of the most well-designed ecosystems to date from a long-term perspective. Polkadot offers far more opportunities for the future than other blockchains. Asylum will be built on Polkadot, but it will be a cross-chain Metaverse.
How do you see the market development for Web3 projects and our niche related to metaverse? Who is the benchmark, whose success do you observe, and who are you gaining experience to implement in your project?
This is a rather tricky question because I’m more of a practitioner — I do more than watch other projects. At the moment, metaverse and web-3 are developing very actively and successfully. But most of it, as far as I know, is in the development stage, finished products that could be called the real metaverse, I do not see.
Many projects, especially early-stage, build infrastructure for future metaverse projects. Projects that are more or less similar in general, i.e., those that create building blocks, with the help of which metaverse will be implemented, and to observe the development of these projects is interesting. For example, in the Polkadot ecosystem Ajuna, the guys from Phala Network, and RMRK offer pretty exciting solutions. I believe that after the creation of a powerful infrastructure, this infrastructure will begin to appear user-friendly, beautiful aspects of the metaverse. I.e., games and spaces that will be connected, with a beautiful picture, deep dive, VR, etc.
Currently, projects that immediately try to make a ready metaverse "out of the box" are not very good at this. They do some pretty good games, but it’s hard to call them metaverse. More today, I look at the development of infrastructure solutions such as Asylum.
Regarding the experience and benchmarks — we are pioneers in this direction. It isn’t easy to choose a benchmark when you do something for the first time. We are looking at the experience of big players in similar niches and trying to find what we can learn from there, which on the contrary, we should not do. Of course, I am looking at guys like Sandbox, Decentraland, etc., but it’s more about what gives us the knowledge to analyze the market and their decisions, not to do the same things.
What stage is the project at now? What is essential for the team this year, and what next?
The project is now in the stage of preparation for the seed round. The seed for us will be a significant push in the right direction, now, we finalize our PoC and prepare all the basic materials and documents. Now we are laying the concept of how Asylum will develop further. After putting this concept in place, we are waiting for deeper immersion in development, in developing our frameworks, SDK, applications, off-chain, and on-chain parts, etc.
Our first full-fledged lounge is scheduled for next year. Until then, we plan to fully work out all the basic things in our system and connect the first integrators to the platform. After that, we will be more active in developing our platform, supporting and expanding, and deepening the necessary solutions.
This year is critical for Asylum, and now we see a turning point where we can show who we are.
How did the interaction with Supercolony begin, what is the concept of the company building, and what do you see in the strengths of this partnership?
I will probably give a little over on this moment — the process of Asylum’s emergence. Initially, the idea of Asylum in its basic form was invented by me in the hackathon. At this point, I was still unfamiliar with blockchain development, but since I did not find a blockchain developer on the team, I took over this part entirely. Accordingly, with this approach, we have not done much work, but it was excellent training. We didn’t win the hackathon, but we still got the attention of the investors, and then I realized that the project should be developed and not thrown away.
As a developer, it wasn’t easy for me to understand from a zero point what it means to develop a project, how to maintain it as a full-fledged company, and as a full-fledged startup — that’s how I met a Supercolony.
Supercolony is a venture studio. Its focus is to notice the strong projects in WEB3 and help their CEOs to transform the idea into a full-fledged working business, a full-fledged working product. They are growing business capitalization and building all needed processes like finance, marketing, PR, recruiting, development, etc., in a word, all you need for your business. This is what I think of as a building company.
When a person comes up with an idea, the company and the product are built around this idea. And this is what the team of Markian Ivanichok, CEO at Supercolony and our Co-Founder, helps with. In various ways — tips on where to focus, what not to do at an early stage, and the right people who help move much faster. Because when you’re one founder, you can’t do everything perfectly yourself. When you get help from the outside, it makes life a lot easier for the company, and it helps you move much faster than you would move.
This is probably the strongest part: the company and the product created as a result of this partnership move much faster and become more significant, visionary, and game-changing than if you were doing as a founder all things yourself.
What great goals and horizons did Asylum achieve by working with the Supercolony team?
The most significant goals we are aiming at now are the goals we set with Supercolony, which Supercolony helped to discover. Because before my interaction with the team began, Asylum was much less ambitious because I personally, as a founder, did not understand all the possibilities of the market that could be discovered, and Supercolony helped with this very much, and showed what opportunities there are in the market at all: contacts, investment potential, partnerships.
For example, at the beginning of growing the idea, we saw Asylum as a platform for gaming, united into a single Metaverse. But after brainstorming, strategic sessions, and a huge amount of visionary thinking, together with Supercolony, we have found an even more game-changing way: create a single Metaverse not only for gaming, but for human beings, a place to play, study, work, and express themselves and everything else you could imagine. Now we are building a single Metaverse for everything that will definitely change the world!
One more important point is that Supercolony is not a typical venture studio. They are helping not only with company building. If there is no needed infrastructure to implement the idea, they create it. They change the ecosystem and market and create the way for us. Together we are becoming pioneers who will create the way other companies follow.
A perfect example is the development of the IMP Protocol. IMP (Interoperable Metaverse Protocol) — is a set of open standards and protocols that will be a basement for the Metaverse — a virtual open space with a life-like experience for the user. Why is it important? A real Metaverse that will be open and consistent can be built only with a down-top approach when firstly we are building an infrastructure and only after that start creating User-side solutions. IMP (and its implementation by Asylum) will be the fundamental layer for Metaverse that will natively connect different spaces, games, and apps into a single space. And unlike infrastructure products that do not separate the standards and protocol to the separate entity, IMP will allow every new project to implement its own version of it, remaining compatible with other implementations.
Where are the points of growth and improvement and the risks of this kind of partnership?
It is important to adjust here. With Supercolony we have no partnership. Supercolony is a co-founder of Asylum. It is therefore much more than a conventional partnership that can be viewed from the outside.
The growth points here are largely in the team because the venture studio model assumes that the venture studio team is also the project team for the first time, which implies working with two identities for people. As the identity of the venture, and the identity of each project individually. And not every person is easy to work in this format.
Risks are like those of any startup. They can be listed for a long time: to miss the pace of the market, not to assemble a team corresponding to our ambitions, not in time to get funding, etc. I see the main value of going with an experienced venture studio is that her team reduces or completely neutralizes these risks.
Would you recommend new projects using this way, and why?
I would, because when you’re a founder, who has some experience in development and has an idea that you’re really burning, you can do anything, you can do with this idea whatever you want. But as long as you don’t have much experience, it will all be pretty slow because you’ll take a long time to learn from your mistakes, flaws, etc.
A model with a venture studio helps avoid many mistakes and immediately create what you create at a high professional level. It’s a very powerful accelerator for your project, and you can do it much faster and more efficiently in the way you want without wasting a huge amount of resources on places where you don’t have enough experience. This is the company that we talked about above, it accelerates the life of a startup very much. Because people with expertise, people who already have this experience, can more effectively influence the stages and events useful for the project; help focus the team, gives new connections in the industry, and helps to showcase the project to those who can invest in it. And this relieves the excess load and avoids unnecessary mistakes that can be thrown back or be fatal to the startup.
If you are a founder of a young startup, I would recommend at least considering the movement model in a strong team — especially when it comes to such dynamic markets as blockchain projects.
Illia Abrosimov: https://twitter.com/corwin_asylum
Markiian Ivanichok: https://twitter.com/0xMarkian