By Riley Kaminer
Daniel Pardo was a budding athlete from a young age. Growing up, he was a regular feature on the basketball team at Miami Beach’s Scott Rakow Youth Center.
When he was in elementary school, his parents purchased a pack of 25 basketball cards featuring a picture of young Pardo in his jersey, plus stats like his height.
“We had our own actual trading card, and I thought that was so unique,” Pardo told Refresh Miami. Unfortunately, Pardo and his family can no longer find his card. But this hometown sports memorabilia in part sparked the native Miamian to found DPC Labs, an NFT marketplace for digital player cards.
The startup focuses on young athletes, primarily in high school and college. These players send in their highlight reels or any photos and videos and the DPC Labs team turns that into a shiny, highly tradable digital asset.
The DPC Labs team built the platform on Solana to make their NFTs as accessible as possible. “We didn’t want there to be a barrier to entry for anybody who doesn’t have the means to pay for gas fees,” said Pardo, referring to the often prohibitively expensive transaction fees common on blockchains like Ethereum. He also signaled that the team liked some of the other projects and investors transacting on the Solana blockchain.
College athletes on DPC Labs’ marketplace typically drop three tiers of NFT editions: platinum, gold, and silver. The higher the tier, the better perks that come along with the NFT purchase. Athletes themselves decide what perks to provide, but Pardo explained that at the high end these could include activities like a golf outing or training session. Lower level gifts include a piece of memorabilia or some sort of fan engagement. DPC Labs takes a percentage of the proceeds from NFT sales.
DPC Labs works slightly differently with high school students since they cannot monetize their NIL. Typically that means partnering with schools and camps to create souvenirs and collectables – essentially digital versions of what Pardo’s parents collected as a child. (Maybe the card would have been easier to keep track of if it had been digital!)
The company launched in March 2021 and started scaling up to a team of 10 employees by August. Two other Miami locals co-founded DPC Labs alongside CEO Pardo: COO Khambrel Roach and Head of Business Growth Sherer “Junior” Desinor. Co-founder and CFO Jacob Byck is from Chicago.
At the moment, DPC Labs has six athletes on the platform, with upwards of 30 more waiting in the wings. Pardo also signaled that they have signed an entire lacrosse team from an HBCU, on top of a few professional lacrosse players as well.
The 2021 NCAA decision to grant athletes more ability to market their name, image, and likeness (NIL) has been met by a proliferation of digital platforms, including in South Florida. That makes this a good time for DPC Labs to provide these NFT services to athletes.
“Right now is the right time for athletes to understand what their business potential is,” said Pardo. “I think web3 can really help do that.”
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