Miami Tech & Startup News

Doodles draws its Miami story at Art Basel activation

Doodles draws its Miami story at Art Basel activation

By Riley Kaminer

Over the course of less than a year – from early 2022 to this November – the market for non-fungible tokens plummeted from $17 billion to $470 million: a 97% drop. That’s according to blockchain research firm Dune Analytics.

But dollars and crypto are just one currency for NFTs. The other important currency is a lot less tangible: hype, or excitement around a project.

By that metric, Miami-based Doodles is still going strong.

A sea of Doodles collectors from as far flung as China, San Francisco, and Boca Raton assembled in Wynwood to show their support for what is one of the top NFT projects globally.

The startup, which has ambitions of becoming a fully-fledged entertainment company, set up a psychedelic miniature golf course inside a warehouse. Their signature green, pink, and blue pastels showcased Doodles’ softer side, amidst these colors’ neon-hued cousins that can be seen throughout Miami. 

Well, maybe not too soft, since their most famous NFT character depicts a tech-bro looking figure with a rainbow streaming out of his mouth – reminiscent of the 3 am scene in the neighborhood bar men’s room.

At the warehouse, Doodles fans navigated through a series of futuristic putting greens. Strolling through the various holes, it was clear that there was often a Doodles HODL’r leading the charge, accompanied by an unwitting friend or two – most usually a partly confused, partly amused spouse. (These companions’ facial expressions could be described as, “Did my partner really spend $2k on this JPEG?”)

Either way, the opulence of the event was a physical reminder that this company had just raised a $54 million funding round, led by Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture fund.

Despite the market uncertainty, and the rampant FUD (crypto slang for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt”), the enthusiasts we talked to were broadly steadfast in their belief that NFTs are here to stay. And, of course, they seemed more than happy to fork over upwards of $50 to secure some swag in DoodlePutt’s buzzing pro shop.

Doodle’s chief scribbler is former Billboard exec Julian Holguin. In a conversation with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at the MiamiWeb3 Summit, he shared his vision for the company.

“We’re trying to reinvent the experience fans have with brands,” Holguin said, repeating the mantra in the space that his ultimate goal is really to onboard people into web3.

A critical part in creating these experiences? Connecting with the community in which you’re hosting the events. In Mayor Suarez, Holguin asserted, Doodles has found a major advocate.

“The mayor’s team has been incredibly supportive in actually onboarding us into the city,” said Holguin, contrasting this with his less positive experiences working in New York and Los Angeles.

He signaled that Doodles is opening an office in Miami’s Design District.

But it was Mayor Suarez whose thoughts perhaps most accurately represent the excitement diehard Doodlers have about the project: The idea that it’s more than just a JPEG. In Suarez’s estimations, with companies like Doodles within our city limits, “we have the opportunity to become the capital of capital.”

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Riley Kaminer