What Could You Build in the Metaverse?
If you’ve heard of the metaverse in passing or in random posts on your social media feed, you might not have realized just how great an impact the metaverse will have on our industry and the online world in general.
The metaverse is expected to completely change the way we work, play, and live our daily lives.
And with great change comes great opportunities.
Within the metaverse, innovative startup opportunities await online entrepreneurs. To help you prepare for the next big thing in technology, we’ll explore what the metaverse is and what is needed to turn the concept into reality.
What is the Metaverse?
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook would change its name to Meta. The rebranding is an intentional reference to the metaverse: an evolution of the internet that would allow people to connect and interact in a single virtual environment.
The term originates from Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash, to describe the evolution of the internet. Stephenson envisioned a dystopian future in which people escape the harsh reality of a world on the brink of economic collapse by congregating in a virtual world. Characters could access this shared virtual space through digital avatars and could access virtual properties, such as buildings and shops, that don’t exist in the real world.
Tech experts and investors believe the metaverse will be the future of the internet, with Wall Street predicting it to be a $1 trillion market. The potential to blend offline and online interactions into a seamless, immersive experience has set us on the path to an almost unbelievable future.
Working Towards a Virtual Future
The metaverse as described above doesn’t exist—yet.
Technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens and Facebook’s Oculus Rift have shown us a glimpse of how augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have real world applications which bodes well for the potential metaverse.
Yet despite these advances, tech corporations haven’t discovered how to integrate these technologies with virtual spaces to create this vision of the metaverse. To achieve that deep level of immersion, many investors and tech experts agree that AR and VR must be combined to create an extended reality (XR).
What’s certain is that the metaverse has massive potential and far-reaching implications for the way we live our daily lives. Huge tech brands and institutional investors believe the metaverse has the potential to disrupt technology in the same way that the first iPhone or the World Wide Web did.
In 2021 alone, investors raised over $10.4 billion in funding for metaverse-related investments. To date, the term “metaverse” has been mentioned 128 times in investment pitches and presentations.
For developers and entrepreneurs, the metaverse presents incredible opportunities to become pioneers on new virtual horizons. The metaverse could change the economy by allowing businesses and consumers to build and trade products or services in virtual reality as they currently do in the real world.
Developers to Rule the World?
Bleeding-edge technology platforms to ensure ease of access to the metaverse will be needed. That’s why we expect software developers and programmers to thrive on the development of this virtual world.
It’s not just developers who should look forward to the metaverse’s evolution. Opportunities for founders and entrepreneurs to contribute to the metaverse (and make money off of it) are also within reach.
The question remains of how opportunities for everyday online business owners might look. The following sections outline a few ways we anticipate the metaverse will impact our industry.
Online Payment Systems
All economies and ecosystems need a centralized method of payment. In the metaverse, tech experts believe that cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could be viable payment solutions for transactions.
An example of how cryptocurrency could be integrated into the metaverse exists in games built on blockchain technology. Game developers have created multiplayer online games in which the in-game native currency is also a digital token or cryptocurrency with monetary value.
For example, Decentraland (MANA) is the Ethereum-based native crypto that players actively use to trade goods and services within the game. Decentraland is a decentralized digital world, so gamers fully own the digital assets bought or sold on the platform. The MANA coin was worth only $0.0093 when it first launched in October 2017. It is worth $3.53 at the time of writing.
Such gaming platforms are showing investors and tech companies how to turn metaverse currency into something with buying power in the real world.
Brands will need to create, process, and manage their own cryptocurrencies within their metaverse. This opens up the opportunity for developers and entrepreneurs to create sophisticated payment processing systems that would allow users to buy something in the metaverse that could be used in the physical world and vice versa.
To function, the metaverse needs everything to be connected. A user should be able to transfer their unique digital assets and data between virtual worlds.
Let’s say that you bought a Ferrari in the real world. You could drive it from state to state and even import it to another country if you relocated. The same functionality is expected in the metaverse.
If we think of the metaverse as a collection of separate virtual spaces, users will want to transfer their virtual Ferraris or Jordans from one metaverse to another.
Thus, an opportunity for entrepreneurs lies in the need for a system that allows the transfer of assets between metaverses.
Customers will want to buy products in the real world that can be used in the metaverse. These items could be entirely cosmetic, such as a pair of Nike Air Jordans to equip your digital avatar.
We saw Fortnite enable this kind of feature when they partnered with Nike in 2019 for a limited edition release of in-game Air Jordans that could be bought for 1,800 V-Buck, a virtual currency in Fortnite used to buy cosmetic items. The price of a V-Buck varies; you get more virtual currency when you purchase more in a single transaction. For example, you can spend $7.99 for 1,000 V-Bucks or $31.99 for 5,000 V-Bucks.
Thanks to their portfolio of recent collaborations and innovative improvements to the in-game experience, Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, secured $1 billion in funding to expand their metaverse offerings.
Outside of Fortnite, Nike seems to be preparing for the wider metaverse based on their recent hiring rounds and patent applications filed.
For online entrepreneurs, the metaverse offers a new commerce opportunity in the form of selling digitized products. In addition to selling through Amazon FBA or dropshipping, you could create your own virtual ecommerce storefront that sells private label products in different metaverses.
The implications of virtual storefronts are multifaceted: omnichannel selling could be a matter of how many virtual storefronts you have in different metaverses. Paid advertising campaigns might be run on virtual billboards. You might hire VAs to manage virtual stores as you would hire staff to manage brick-and-mortar businesses.
Every facet of online business as we know it could expand into its own virtual equivalent.
Event Planning and Entertainment
A natural extension of the metaverse is interactive virtual events. Thanks to the pandemic, global communities have begun to adapt to virtual events, creating a perfect base on which the metaverse can be built.
Within the entertainment and gaming worlds, virtual events are taking off. Travis Scott hosted a virtual concert in Fortnite in April 2020 to critical acclaim. Justin Bieber recently held a remote concert, which was managed by event planning company Wave. Since then, other performers have experimented with virtual concerts to a similar degree of success.
Events are already a booming industry, and virtual events now double the number of opportunities for entrepreneurs and creators to capture audiences and develop communities.
Our Two Cents
It’s clear that a fully realized metaverse is a matter of “when” rather than “if,” but there’s still some way to go before its foundation is in place.
As an online entrepreneur, you might already be poised to adapt to the metaverse because you’re well versed in the art of growing and monetizing a digital asset. If the metaverse represents the evolution of the internet, the next challenge will be to convert current online business models so they can exist and thrive in a deeper virtual world. On the other side of this initial transition could be an unbelievably wide array of monetization opportunities and growth potential for established businesses.
Content creators could be one of the first to thrive in the metaverse since it will be built on content. The metaverse might offer content creators to monetize their content in new ways and make it easier for entrepreneurs to build an audience.
Watch this space, as we expect further investments to be made in accelerating the process of blending the physical and digital worlds into one seamless experience.