neon marketing technology is an unusual, yet successful startup that cannot be put into just one box. With its latest creative endeavor, the startup is exploring new possibilities in the digital media space.
Photo: Z4UBERSHOW’s moderator Torge Schwandt and neon marketing technology co-founder & CEO Misch Strotz © neon marketing technology
In the last two years since its inception, neon marketing technology has made a name for itself as one of Luxembourg’s fastest-growing companies. With its triad of services (marketing & tech agency, neontools.io, neonacademy.io), the startup innovates at the frontier of digital marketing, online education, and the creator economy. We spoke to neon’s Co-Founder & CEO, Misch Strotz, about the podcasting and cryptocurrency experiment he and his team recently launched.
What is your newest project all about?
In January of this year, we launched a German-speaking YouTube show called “Z4UBERSHOW” (German for “magic show”). We turned my old living room into a cozy recording studio with the intention to make audio and video productions for clients – but when testing the newly bought gear, we found it to be a great opportunity to actually produce our own show.
In that sense the “Z4UBERSHOW” started just as a fun experiment. By now, it is content-wise a mix between a serious talk show and a casual satire-like conversation (including jokes and memes) where we discuss all kinds of topics with our guests. However, what is most important to me, it is a medium that is decoupled from neon’s brand so we can use it to try out new things that do not directly belong to it.
Since the show is recorded not just in audio, but also video, we have recently decided to embark on a new journey: Instead of relying on advertising to finance it, we have started to create our own non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These NFTs are short video snippets that contain the best scenes of the show. You can think of them being collectibles like animated trading cards. We call them Z4UBERTRICKS (= magic tricks). Fans can buy these tokens and thus effectively own special moments from the show.
“We want to show what is possible at the intersection of creativity, digital content, and technology.”
Who do you invite to the show?
We invite people from various backgrounds, currently mainly from Luxembourg, but we are exploring to invite some international guests as well. So far, we had the pleasure of talking to various profiles of people, including artists, influencers, and politicians. We also already welcomed founders like Pierre Beck (Fox Drinks), Christophe Diederich (Concept+Partners) or Klot Kieffer (Hype) and had Philippe Weisen (Head of Startups at BIL) on the show.
Led by our moderator Torge Schwandt, we discuss a wide range of topics with our guests. We do not have a set agenda for the conversations but let our creativity guide us to give room to serendipitous turns and outcomes. Basically, all guests have an interesting personal and professional story to tell. Their journeys give us sort of a framework of what to discuss with them. Like this, we regularly talk about entrepreneurship, politics, history, philosophy, art as well as less serious topics.
For us it is very important that the guests do not come dressed in their usual suit and tie, but that they feel at ease and actually have a casual drink and meal with us during the recording.
What exactly are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have received quite the attention lately as they truly have the power to change the economy on multiple levels. Not only with regard to digital content – but that is surely the area where their potential is being highlighted the most right now.
The reason for that is simple: NFTs allow creators to natively license their work and mathematically guarantee authenticity and ownership. Like this, people can become direct investors in someone or even something they love without having to fight through ads or other time-stealing content. They have the potential to disrupt how the ‘attention economy’ functions and how we consume content online.
The tokens, which effectively prove the ownership, get minted (= created) on the Ethereum blockchain where they technically live forever – or until they get burned by the owner. In that sense, I believe it is safe to say: What copyright did for the printing press, NFTs will do for digital content and in a few years maybe for every other non-fungible “thing” that exists in the world. That is why I believe NFTs will play a crucial part in the future of digital content.
In recent months, several renowned artists have released their own tokens, the most important one probably being Mike Winkelmann who goes by his artist name „Beeple“. He sold an art piece for $69.7 million at a Christie‘s auction. Recently, Damien Hirst also announced a project in this space, called Palm Project.
Other interesting ones include people like Snoop Dogg, Tony Hawk, William Shatner, The Weeknd, Deadmau5, or even models like Kara Del Toro who use NFTs to sell exclusive pictures and thus bypass third-party platforms like OnlyFans or Patreon.
“What copyright did for the printing press, NFTs will do for digital content.”
How do you leverage this development with your Z4UBERTRICKS?
As mentioned, the Z4UBERTRICKS are video snippets of the best moments from our show. We mint them as NFTs through opensea.io, which is actually one of the hottest startups in this space that recently raised lots of funding by some of the world’s leading venture capitalists. On the platform, our fans can buy the snippets’ ownership rights. Like this, we generate revenue that we split with our guests – without any middlemen or dependency on ads.
This concept is not entirely new as it has been pioneered by US startups like Dapper Labs, which together with the NBA launched the so-called “NBA Top Shots”. These are short clips from NBA games that basketball fans pay thousands of dollars for. They are basically like trading cards or other collectibles – just like our Z4UBERTRICKS.
How did you come up with the idea for the show?
A project like this has been in the back of our minds for a long time. My first company (L-Pod) was actually a podcasting and video company several years ago. Back in the days, we were a bit ahead of our time. Social media was not as big as it is today and the possibilities were not as sophisticated as they are now.
Today, I feel in a similar way – not for the show and social media, but for the NFT market and the revolution related to it.
With the Z4UBERSHOW, I feel like a spark has been lit within our team. Our common interest in topics like geopolitics, technology, and philosophy finally has a place where other people can join and support our discussions. All this gets enhanced by the creation of the NFTs.
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Who is the team behind the project?
In addition to the show’s moderator Torge Schwandt, I am the host and executive producer, managing the recording and post-production. Besides the two of us, our group of partners at neon is involved, including my Co-Founder Karim Youssef, Sacha Schmitz, and Jacques Weniger.
Other collaborators include Mathieu Schiltz-Stoos who is an expert on Asia and philosophy as well as Ivan Cardoso who Silicon Luxembourg’s readers probably remember as the “Startup Chauffeur” and one of the co-founders of the LOA festival.
Like this, each episode has a different co-moderator, depending on the guest and the related topics.
Where can people find your show and the NFTs?
Since the Z4UBERSHOW is taped on video, we publish it on all the usual channels like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It is also available as an audio-only version on all major podcasting platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Castbox. Our NFTs can be found when looking for “Z4UBERTRICKS” on opensea.io or via our website z4ubershow.com and social media: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook.