“Our lives changed overnight,” says Thorne Melcher, a young software engineer who lost her job to the pandemic and nearly lost her home.
Melcher and his girlfriend, Mandy Musselwhite, had a shared account that fell short of $1 and both owed $35,587 in mortgage arrears. Had it not been for a check they turned in at the last moment, they were expected to appear in court on Friday.
The girls own a house on the outskirts of Atlanta. In 2019, they spent most of their savings to pay for the property, valued at $300,000, which includes a farm where ducks and geese breed.
It is said that under pressure the best ideas emerge. It was at that difficult time when Musselwhite, a 25-year-old plastic artist, thought of exploiting her full potential in the universe of non-fungible tokens (NFT).
The inspiration came from the ducks
“I knew we had to think of something,” he told CNBC Make It. “We didn’t want to lose this property. We love being here. Animals love being here.”
Both drew on their skills in art and programming and created Dastardly Ducks, a collection of 10,000 NFT with drawings of code-generated ducks with unique combinations of more than 100 different traits.
Initially, the plan was to raise any amount of money that would help them save their home, but the idea was a resounding success. They launched the project on Wednesday and the NFTs sold out in less than six hours: they earned nearly $120,000.
“We saved our farm by selling duck drawings. It was like a dream,” says Melcher, 33. “They started selling very quickly. I couldn’t sleep until they all left.”
Finally, Musselwhite was able to hand over a check for $40,000 and managed to gain a little more time.
How they found the world of NFTs
Not only could the girls not pay the bills, but they could also barely buy food. At the beginning of the project, they also did not have the funds to implement the collection’s smart contract.
Smart contracts, CNBCreviews, are collections of code that form a set of instructions in the blockchain and are crucial to boosting NFTs.
Every Ethereum transaction requires computational power to complete, so users are charged a fee to execute their transactions. Transactions involving smart contracts, such as those in NFT, require more energy and tend to have higher fees.
Fortunately, a friend offered to cover the Dastardly Ducks fee. “We were really broke,” Melcher says. “And then, hours later, we had more money than we’d ever had.”
As a software engineer, Melcher was able to quickly learn Solidity, a programming language for developing smart contracts, while Musselwhite focused on designing every Dastardly Duck.
“It was the perfect fusion of our talents,” he said.
Melcher coded the smart contract for batch minting. That made it possible for buyers to buy and mint a pack of 12 Dastardly Ducks, which uses less energy than making it one by one.
Minting an NFT is the process of converting an asset into a token and allows NFT owners to prove that they own the asset and be able to sell it if they wish.
The collection was affordable, which also increased buyer interest. At launch, each Dastardly Duck cost around $15, and a pack of 12 cost $120.
“Now I have so many people who suddenly want to work with me as a Solidity programmer. And there are also people who are interested in working with Mandy as an artist,” Melcher said.
Although any owner of Dastardly Duck can use their ducks in their own content, Melcher and Musselwhite own the rights to the name and style of the collection. The couple looks forward to continuing the brand and working on new NFT projects.
They will also continue to earn royalties on secondary sales. The volume traded on OpenSea is currently around $6,354 in total.