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The Politics of Everything

Mar 29, 2022

Many of us have heard of the term metaverse, perhaps firstly when it came to global attention in 2021 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg publicly changed its parent company name to Meta. According to one definition, a metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

Meet Sam Joel, the founder of GiveTree, a virtual game world built on top of an NFT marketplace, where a portion of every transaction goes to a real-world charity and helps make the world a better place.  His own story is very inspiring and not like most tech-preneurs we know. Sam originally started GiveTree as a simple charity directory over three and half years ago, while he was homeless and suffering from mental illness and addiction. For most of that time, he lived in an internet cafe in Sydney Australia & relied on the support of local charities to help him survive.

In June 2019 the government granted him 'emergency access' to his superannuation. He accessed 'up to $ $6000 from his super & rented a room in North Bondi. That solved the shelter problem. That did not solve the mental illness and addiction problems. He really struggled with adjusting back to normal life – for example, drinking over 30 standards a day, every day as he tried to manage PTSD & mental health problems.

In April 2020 due to excessive alcohol consumption, he had a brain seizure. That was the turning point for Sam getting the medical attention he needed to make it. After being discharged from the hospital, over the course of the next few months, his mental health issues slowly started subsiding because I had stopped drinking, got a part-time job, started building new relationships, and started to become healthy again.  Originally, just a simple charity directory, fast forward three years & GiveTree is now evolved into Australia's first NFT marketplace “for good”.

Hear from Sam on:

  1. What was the hardest part of starting this tech business especially as you were overcoming some very hard personal circumstances?
  2. How have you made GiveTree Australia’s first NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace that really gives back? What steps has that involved from a business planning and financial investment view?
  3. You say that NFTs are an incredible new fundraising resource for charities both in Australia and around the world. You now look forward to helping charities adventure into the metaverse world of blockchains, cryptocurrency, NFTs, 3D avatars, VR, AR, Gaming, and more. Why has this been not done yet do you think?
  4. How can more charitable organizations get involved in this metaverse so they can also be a part of this brave new world?
  5. Take away: What is your final takeaway message for us on The Politics of the Giving Metaverse?



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