Q&A with Paradigm.art — An NFT Platform Designed to Fund Climate Projects
Naturally, as soon as I shifted my focus to a new start-up — and put Going Green on the backburner — the number of projects at the intersection of climate and crypto exploded. I recently heard from the co-founder of one of these projects, and I jumped at the opportunity to ask him questions that I have about his project specifically, as well as the space more generally. I hope you enjoy my Q&A with Jerome Maas, co-founder of Paradigm.art.
What is the idea?
Paradigm is the NFT platform designed to fund climate projects. We are a web3 marketplace bringing together creators, buyers, and high impact projects to fund a stronger and more sustainable world.
Where did it come from?
In September 2021, Paradigm's founders (Jerome Maas & Terrence Chan) joined a start-up accelerator in Cambridge, England, called Carbon13, which seeks to reduce GHG emissions by 1% globally within the next 10 years.
Jerome, a seasoned CEO and marketeer with a longstanding career in the creative industries, joined as a commercial founder, and Terrence, a Hong Kong born software engineer and blockchain developer, joined as a technical founder. Prior to joining Carbon13, the two had never met. Neither had a firm idea for a new business, but both knew they wanted to dedicate their time and efforts to fighting the climate emergency.
One day when discussing ideas around carbon removal initiatives, the topic of funding came up. How does one fund a project that might not traditionally be suited towards funding mechanisms like venture capital? The suggestion of an NFT sale to raise monies was floated.
With a longstanding interest in new technologies, Jerome began a journey deep down the web3 rabbit hole, where he spotted a clear opportunity: What if we created an NFT platform to fund the fight on climate change?
How does it differ from other initiatives at the intersection of climate and crypto?
Firstly, I feel it is important to say that the emergence of such 'climate meets crypto' initiatives are crucial in order for the category to become cleaner and more widely accepted. Web3 technologies have potential to disrupt industry whilst having a real world positive impact, so I think we will continue to see more of these initiatives emerge over time.
Yet whilst it is great to see such a wide variety of projects appearing, we were personally yet to spot an NFT platform that was built, from the ground up, with climate impact at its forefront. Paradigm takes that position.
What does success look like?
We have big ambitions and lofty goals. We’re hoping to redirect $1B of funds towards high impact projects over the next five years whilst removing over 50M tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere in the same period.
Ultimately our desire is for Paradigm to become the clear ‘go-to’ platform for high impact climate or socially focused NFT projects looking to make positive real word impact.
What will be the keys to success?
Community and partnerships are at the heart of the web3 ecosystem and are fundamental to our success.
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to the product thus far from all customer segments, all of which — sellers, buyers, and projects — have an equally important part to play in the success of the platform.
If we can continue to convert the skeptics and the non believers into ambassadors by showing visible real world impact built on clean technology, it could unlock real change at an exciting and rapid pace.
Do you expect that people will get involved with Paradigm because of a desire to have an impact or because of a desire to make money?
I think we’ll resonate with those already active in the space and those still trying to work it all out. But my hope is that people will be drawn to the platform predominantly because they have a fundamental desire to do good.
What do you say to people who have lost money on previous projects at the intersection of climate and crypto? Because so far there are more failures than successes!
I say I’m sorry to hear that! It’s such a new industry and anyone who says they can predict the market is kidding themselves. For the team at Paradigm this is not primarily about making money. That is not the thing that drives us and gets us out of bed every morning. It’s about the real world potential impact that we believe our technology will deliver.
But, if you are looking to invest in a project, do your research. Don’t invest in something you don’t understand. Don’t expect to make crazy returns overnight, and do it for the right reasons. If the project feels genuine, you believe in the team behind it, and most importantly, you support the mission, then contribute to the cause however you feel comfortable in doing so.
How do you reassure people that they're not making climate change worse by participating in a crypto project?
It’s such an important point and one that we have to have the answers to. The headlines are there for good reason and the concerns over the environmental impact of NFTs (and web3 at large) are not entirely unfounded.
However, the technologies are evolving, fast. It’s important to remember that any project, climate or otherwise, will consume energy in order to have an impact. As long as we continue to build from the ground up with climate in mind, are able to keep our energy consumption as low as possible, and in turn ensure our impact outcome is as high as possible, we believe the positive effect will quickly negate any initial energy consumed in the making of the product itself.
Paradigm’s values are focused on creating an open, honest, trustworthy and transparent product for its users, and in order for us to do that we must be able to show a) the footprint of our operations, both at a company and customer level, and b) the positive impact the platform is having, in real time.
Our hope is that the ability to measure initial and ongoing energy consumptions alongside real world impact over time will not only onboard people to the overarching mission, but also reassure them that by participating, users of the platform have the ability to deliver significant upside impact.
What do you say to critics of offsets, who say that they enable companies to avoid the hard work of shifting to clean energy?
I say I hear them! It’s a concern. In many ways it’s a plaster to the problem. Ultimately if we don’t address the root causes of the issues we face, we won’t be any better off in the long run. However, offsets, particularly high integrity removals (vs avoidance, for example), do have a part to play in the bigger impact picture, so they can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
But they are by no means a solution to our problems. Innovation must continue across all industries, not just energy, if we have any chance in meeting necessary climate targets.