How Wilson Lee and Cass Chan turned an interest in NFTs into an empire
The Vancouver duo are doing big things with the Littles.
On June 27 of last year, Wilson Lee had seen enough. His intrigue with NFTs had started early that year when the artist known as Beeple sold a painting for $69 million. It continued when Vancouver’s Dapper Labs officially launched its NBA Top Shot product.
“For me, I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, I missed the train,’ recalls Lee, who had been in the crypto industry for a few years prior but hadn’t broken into NFTs. He bought his first in the summer and spent a good portion of the rest of the year buying and trading the non-fungible tokens with his partner, Cass Chan, after they’d put their daughter to sleep. “We’d get on our laptops and degen all night long. It was such an exciting and fun period of time, kind of like an escape.”
Lee put his “entire portfolio” into NFTs and soon he and Chan started designing their own. Based on their daughter’s favourite animal, the duo created the Littles, a collection of animated bears.
The Littles launched last November. These days, it has close to 5,500 holders, with each NFT costing a minimum of $1,200. Overall, the collection has seen about $40 million in secondary transactions. And recently, Lee and Chan inked a deal with Time Studios to produce a children’s series based on the NFTs.
Lee and Chan are partnering with the studio as producers and will work closely with Maria Perez-Brown, head of kids and family at Time.
thelittles @thelittlesnfttogether we have built an amazing community + one that will continue to take @thelittlesnft to new heights! we are honored to announce our official partnership with @timestudiosfilm & beyond excited for what’s to come… catch us on the big screens 🤩📺 https://t.co/sgZoHRp8mL https://t.co/Q9neHdALYb
“That’s something I’m very excited for,” says Lee. “I’m a very creative type of entrepreneur, so being able to learn a different trade and work with someone of that calibre at the top of her game is such an honour. Especially given that we are such a young brand.”
Chan feels like the deal will help boster the legitimacy of NFTs as a whole. “Being able to tie in such a big-name establishment to NFTs gives it weight,” she says. “Many people don’t trust NFTs, they think it’s super sketch or a scam.”
But the Time deal is just the start for Lee and Chan. A metaverse game is set to launch sometime in Q2. “We want to be at the forefront of this entire innovation and industry,” says Lee. “To be able to create a game that is interoperable within the metaverse itself is incredibly fun and exciting.”
Behind the avatars and NFT sales, there’s also a human element. Lee and Chan essentially created the Littles with and for their daughter, and Chan, who was six months pregnant with the pair’s second child when they started getting into NFTs, has gained a unique perspective on life in the world of Web3.
“I found it really intimidating at first when I’d go into Discord and its all these Moon Boys going ‘Let’s fucking go! Where’s the green dildo on our out point?’” she says. “It’s not super inviting. But being able to launch a project and understand the ins and outs, it allowed me to feel confident and put myself forward for females, for moms, for women in this space, to feel like they’re able to join the space even though there's such little information. There’s no help line, it’s Discord and Twitter. So being a resource for them is important to me.”