VeeCon, first-ever NFT-ticketed conference, held in Minneapolis

Celebrities and fans of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gathered in Minneapolis last week for VeeCon, the first-ever NFT-ticketed conference from entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. 

NFTs are internet collectibles and digital assets. The unique data attributed to each NFT makes verifying ownership and any subsequent token transfers easy. Consumers can purchase NFTs with cryptocurrencies, rather than a traditional currency, and the blockchain records the purchase data. Decentralized blockchains are immutable, so transactions are permanent and viewable to anyone. 

Vaynerchuk argues this technology will eventually be widespread due to its ability to verify ownership efficiently and digitally. 

"We will all interact with NFTs because they will be our airline tickets," Vaynerchuk said ahead of the May 19-22 conference at US Bank Stadium. "They will be our receipts, they will be our tickets to US Bank Stadium, they will be our membership cards. Right now, we use plastic, QR codes, and email confirmations for many things I think the blockchain will eat up because it is better technology."

To gain access to the conference, attendees had to own a VeeFriends NFT. VeeFriends are Vaynerchuk's hand-drawn creations. Each artwork is an animal that represents a quality Vaynerchuk admires, including empathy, curiosity, and respect. In addition to being digital collectibles, the NFTs give holders access to three years of the in-person conference, VeeCon. 

Keynote speeches, q&as, and informational panels included entrepreneurs, influencers, artists, and celebrities. Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee, and Mila Kunis were just a handful of the notable A-listers in attendance. VeeFriends holders came from all over the world, with around 80% of the attendees traveling from outside the state of Minnesota.

Maha Abouelenein, a resident of Wayzata and CEO of the media organization Digital & Savvy, helped to highlight local businesses. Minnesota brands and startups were represented at an invite-only event outside the stadium last Thursday night. Abouelenein also coordinated a press luncheon at the Minneapolis staple, Fhima's. The restaurant recently debuted the first NFT gallery in the city.

Despite concerns about web3's longevity due to the recent cryptocurrency crash, Vaynerchuk argued that the conference took place at the perfect time. In his Thursday press luncheon, Vaynerchuk asserted that dismissing NFTs as a trend due to the recent market correction would be a common mistake that has historically occurred with big technologies like the internet and social media.