NFTs: How I Funded My Trip

I just graduated from Consensys Academy Blockchain Developer Bootcamp and am actively searching for a tech position, preferrably Full Stack, Dapp, or Smart Contract Engineering, but flexible for awesome teams.


TLDR;
I minted an NFT from @RocketNFT to use for a loan for the remainder of my trip to ETH Denver for $385, after raising $115 (from Lee Lara and Cas Patterson) in 30 minutes via Twitter and Telegram.

The Story

Last night, I was wondering how I could get to ETH Denver. I don’t have a lot of money right now, much less for cross-country travel, plus I only heard about the conference because I was invited to Pepo (the official app of ETH Denver for social) by one of the founders due to a mysterious recommendation. I looked it up at ETH Denver site.

It looked, to me, like a great opportunity to connect with many other ETH folks in the space, which is just what I’m looking to do. I just needed to figure out how to get there and back!

Strategy

My first thought was to put out some feelers for a travel scholarship to the ETH Denver team. I emailed them.

Unfortunately, I heard back that the scholarship deadline had passed in December. I found out about the event 2 days ago. So, I was suggested to crowdfund.

I started a Tweet to raise money. Within 30 minutes, I had $115 in my Venmo pocket out of the $500 I needed to get to Denver and back. Great start!

I asked a Twitter friend, Alex Masmej, in his DMs if he could contribute and he introduced me to the idea of @RocketNFT, (NFT stands for non-fungible tokens) being used to leverage loans. He’d be willing to loan me the money as long as he got a NFT in return with details of the loan in the description of the NFT.

We spent most of the night trying to mint the NFT and negotiating terms.

Minting the NFT: Trials and Tribulations

I tried to connect to Mintbase.io, which has a beautiful UI, but didn’t work. I tried to mint a new coin, but couldn’t. I got some mysterious websocket errors. I hard refreshed. I cleaned my cache and history. I restarted my computer. I switched Internet connections. I tried to debug the websocket errors and sent them to Alex. I tried to get more ETH in my account for gas fees as I only had like .72 cents USD worth and needed .73 cents USD (no joke).

I tried buying a small amount of crypto and couldn’t do it without hard verification on coinbase (which I didn’t really want to do because their fees are incredibly bad/predatory) or required minimums of trading (20 USD on Binance or 50USD on changelly). Binance required ridiculous verification for residency beyond Passport or Drivers License. They wanted utility bills and a bank account with the address listed on it. I was just trying to get $1 worth of ETH, not share my entire utility bill with a new company. Besides, how long would that take? I needed the ETH then to buy the bus ticket before prices surged.

So, Alex sent me $2 worth of ETH and added it to the loan amount. Even still, Mintbase.io had crapped out somehow. My MetaMask wouldn’t connect with it. It didn’t even pop up.

We both tried Mintbase.io. It didn’t work for us. Eventually, he had to go to sleep and sent me the 1.9 ETH to my MetaMask before receiving the NFT.

In an effort to follow through, I searched for another NFT minter and found Mintable.app. While it took forever (20 minutes to confirm) on Mainnet in Web 2.0 time, it went through this time, after a couple of failures due to low set gas price. I had to increase the gas manually in MetaMask to be more gWei than listed for it to go through because their estimated gas was too low.

I fell asleep before it finished and woke up early, sent the transaction from Etherscan to Alex, and we found the token on OpenSea.io. I sent over the $MAX token to the DAO address I was given. Trade complete!

See it on OpenSea.io: $MAX

ETH Transferred: What now? $$

I’m not done with the trade quite yet. I needed to convert the ETH I received into USD. So, I tried a few exchanges. Some wouldn’t do it easily. I then went to Gemini and sent the ETH to my Gemini wallet, then put a limit stop order on the ETH to convert it to USD. It worked!

I tried a few different exchanges and they all required different verifications for KYC / AML purposes.

Gemini was the easiest one to setup and didn’t require long verification process. My bank account was confirmed instantly through Plaid and I was already signed up for ActiveTrader services, so I got to see nice graphs of ask/bid spreads.

It took a few minutes for my order to be filled and I got an email confirming it was filled, as well as one about my deposit to my bank account being initiated.

Right now, I’m waiting for it to clear in my bank account.

Alternatives Available

Credit card debt wouldn’t have worked because, when you’re trans, your credit history becomes blank after you change your name. This red flags me for those traditional lenders. Also, their rates for me are about 24.99%+ per month.

Short term loans were not an options as I would not be approved for lack of credit history. They also would likely be for a shorter payback period than 6 months.

I could have gone peer-to-peer but that’s a lot of pressure on my friends and I wasn’t willing to do that route if I didn’t have to immediately.

Seeking out donations from people could have worked for the whole amount, but this is better. I knew I could get hte money and make plans to go to the event. Also, I want to have skin in the game so to speak and contribute to the community.

Why NFTs?

It’d only been about 30 minutes when I heard from Alex about the NFT opportunity and I jumped on it. I didn’t know what NFTs were. I knew was ERC721 tokens were, but didn’t know that it was this easy to mint one for yourself!

NFTs were an easy way for me to vouch for my own commitment to payback the loan, terms on default (40 hours of my time), and create an opportunity for me to go to ETH Denver to meet more ETH people and potentially find a job in blockchain/crypto.

All the alternatives would have also taken much more time and been much more, well, boring to me, to be honest.

This was fun to figure out how to do. It was a challenge, which I like.

It’s The Future

I officially think this is the future.

As long as someone believes in you and you have crypto, you can loan money to someone in a more legit P2P fashion than ever before.

Overall, within 2-3 hours, I was able to negotiate and follow through on a loan initiation with a DAO for just the right amount to get to ETH Denver and back from Baltimore.

I’m grateful to be a trusted member of the ETH community and grateful for the opportunity to go to ETH Denver next week under such short time constraints.

Overall

This was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to meet more ETH people at ETH Denver. I learned a bunch about the logistics of how to mint NFTs and how to transfer them to different addresses and cryptotrading timelines for orders and KYC/AML user procedures.

Connect!

Drop me a line, if you’re going to ETH Denver, say hi, especially if you’re hiring!

Published 7 Feb 2020

Full Stack Dapp && Smart Contract Engineer.
Max Goodman on Twitter