Emory Alum Disrupting the Arts


It's tough being an artist. Are there other careers whose challenges have been turned into a cliche? Have you ever heard, "Oh, he's the starving accountant type?" One Emory alum, Duncan Cock Foster (17BA), has built a new platform to make starving artists a thing of the past and he stopped by The Hatchery last week to share about his experience building a company and some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

With his twin brother Griffin, Duncan founded Nifty Gateway, the premier marketplace for non-fungible tokens (aka "Nifties"). Based on the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrency, Nifties are unique digital objects (often art) you can buy, own, and sell—just like physical goods. The brothers are on a mission to create a marketplace of one billion collectors of Nifties, and also foresee a future in which these digital tokens may be paired with physical assets as proof of ownership.  In 2019, their one-year-old startup Nifty Gateway was acquired by the cryptocurrency company Gemini, owned by the famous Winklevoss twins.

With all this rapid success you might expect Duncan to feel like he has things all figured out. On the contrary, Duncan is humble about the ways that he is still growing and learning as Nifty Gateway evolves. He encouraged budding innovators to identify their own knowledge gaps and seek out books, podcasts, articles, professors, and mentors who could help them learn what they needed in order to achieve their goals. Duncan also had some great tips about how to start a company. For instance, he put a great deal of emphasis on choosing a market, industry, or technology that is ripe for disruption and poised to grow instead of an industry where you might be making only incremental improvements to existing products or services. This was connected to his exhortation to choose a big, disruptive goal rather than a small one. Starting a company is hard either way so you may as well do something big!   

The whole interview was full of helpful tidbits and you can view the event recording here. To keep up with all programming The Hatchery has coming up for innovators be sure to subscribe to their newsletter or follow them on Instagram.

To learn more about The Hatchery visit Hatchery.emory.edu or email The Hatchery staff at thehatchery@emory.edu. The Hatchery is a unit of Emory University Academic Innovation.

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