Connie Digital is a social token pioneer. In this ForeFront Creator Spotlight, we sat down with Digital to learn more about the person behind the pioneering social token "$HUE".
"At the beginning, everyone is a creator. But most people just slowly kind of lose that connection with creation". Connie tells me through a spotty Zoom connection on fall morning in 2020. Our call starts off in the usual 2020 manner, recounting our experience with pandemic life. In short, we both feel pretty damn lucky to be a part of crypto.
Connie is an easy guy to talk to. He has a beaming smile and a full bodied laugh that makes him easily likeable. Over the past few weeks I've had the chance to get to know Connie through the Seed Club Cohort that he’s a part of and that I lead.
Beyond his friendly demeanor it's his thoughtfulness that really stands out. His answers to questions often include a short pause, before an insightful and authentic response. I very much enjoy our conversations.
My goal on this call is to learn more about the path Connie took to crypto, to launching a social token and to get a sense of where he sees it all going.
I started off where all good conversations should start out:
"Tell me about your childhood"
"I always used my artistic expression growing up" he tells me. But it was his father that was the spark that turned his art into entrepreneurship.
"I would draw these characters in middle school. One day my Dad took a few to the local flea market and came back with some t-shirts with my characters on it. I wore one to school the next day and the kids kind of went crazy for it. So I started creating more t-shirts. Every day people were anticipating what I was going to wear next. It kind of became my thing."
The artistic hustle continued over into high school where he would make custom painted t-shirts, hats, jeans for classmates. He even designed a jersey for the local Minor League Baseball team.
After a brief time in Fashion School (too much fabric cutting, too many ladies, not enough art), a death in the family, and a car accident that "Really shook me up" Connie found himself on a path of discovering different exoteric teachings, meditations, and various mind altering substances.
Eventually, Connie found himself seeking solitude in "Atlanta of all places". It was an Andreas Antonopoulos video and the subsequent search for more sound money that led him to Bitcoin.
"Well, it led me to buy bitcoin so I could buy Goldcoin. Which, as it turned out was a shitcoin. But it got me into the space" Connie says shrugging.
Connie supported himself by writing, editing and creating for various early crypto publications. Remote work in crypto was challenging back then, and Connie would eventually find himself back in his hometown in Jersey.
"This was around the time that Ethereum launched." He tells me, leaning forward in his chair. "I remember participating in the presale…. man I wish I still had them." He says laughing.
I’m fascinated with the Venn diagram of strengths and skills that people who were attracted to crypto early shared. For Connie it was a mix of creativity, hustle and a search for something new that led him to crypto and later to launch one of the first social tokens, HUE.
"I’m always researching, always trying to stay in the loop. It was 2017 and the launch of Crypto Kitties that opened my eyes to NFTs. The potential for collecting, tickets, art, there were so many potential use cases. 2017 was another year of exploration. I was learning about WAX, about EOS, NFTs, but ultimately decided it was about time I used my skills to build something for myself."
Connie had found a home on cent.co, the crypto platform where the platform would pay crypto for your content.
"I had been developing a community on cent for 8/9 months at the time when Bradley from Roll reached out to me. This was 2019." He tells me.
"The idea of launching my own token had crossed my mind before, but I hadn’t seen anyone positioning it in the way that Roll had. I thought to myself, if we can pull this off, it could be massive"
In one of their conversations, Bradley asked Connie a simple question. "If you had a token what would you name it?"
That question was the spark for HUE. An ERC20 social token that Connie would launch on Roll in mid 2019.
$HUE is one of oldest social tokens and is responsible for helping launch the social token category.
Connie Digital, Creator of $HUE
"The initial idea around the project was simple. I wanted to use HUE to engage my Cent community.
The first use of HUE was a drop inside of Cryptovoxels. I invited folks to come jump in-world and claim HUE. The first utility was to redeem for a shoutout on a dedicated billboard inside Connie's virtual studio.
For the first year, Connie focused on new ways of distributing HUE. Drops inside Cryptovoxels, his newsletter and even a chatbot that people could engage with and claim HUE at the end.
Eventually Connie landed on using HUE as a curation incentive and to allow individuals to purchase his NFTs.
"I had created 5 or 6 different pieces of art and used my platform to let people vote on their favourite ones, so I could gauge interest. People who voted got some tokens for contributing."
He had struggled to price his NFT’s, uncertain of what was right or how collectors might react, so he decided to allow people to purchase his NFTs with HUE.
"I listed one NFT for 10k HUE on Opensea. It was the first NFT purchased using social tokens. Skeenee was the buyer".
As tools like Uniswap and Collabland opened up new possibilities for social tokens, Connie has again leaned into exploration, looking for new ways to push both his creativity, hustle and token forward.
"What’s next man?" I asked him, as our call drew to a close.
Connie and I have had lots of chats about "what’s next" over the past few weeks. In many ways, that’s the main focus of his participation in Seed Club.
Connie has recently launched a Tribe Community bucking the social token trend of using Collabland to gate access to communities and instead using the more feature rich platform the Tribe provides. Current members earn points for participation that can be traded in for HUE.
HUE (noun) a gradation
or variety of a color;
He’s also exploring different ways to use HUE to customize experiences.
He’s kicking around an idea of building a chatbot based story that changes based on the number of tokens you hold. He’s also exploring a chrome extension that would integrate HUE Staking for customization of different digital experiences.
In the near term, Connie continues to focus on building a foundation for HUE that is focused on earning, a wide distribution, integration into the NFT space and an ongoing creative exploration bringing new variety to digital experiences.
Crypto projects generally have a steep learning curve. The same was true with Social Tokens. For months Connie and other early issuers were experimenting and learning in their own corners of the internet without much fanfare.
As more mainstream social tokens begin to hit the market, it might be easy to ignore the pioneers, the folks building through the bear market when no one even knew what a social token really was. Ignoring them would be a mistake. Connie has hustle, creativity and enjoys walking the untrodden path. It will serve us all well to keep an eye on where he’s going.
Thanks for reading
This is the first of ongoing series of interviews featuring creators that are shaping the social tokens space. Creators that through their own creative genius are kind enough to let us be part of their journey. Subscribe and stay tuned for the next interview. We are just getting started.