My VeeCon 2023 Experience
VeeCon is a three-day conference held by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. On the website, it’s described as “a multi-day super conference with discussions and performances from iconic and emerging leaders in business, marketing, innovation, and popular culture.”
This year’s event, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, just wrapped up. Vaynerchuk has an NFT project VeeFriends, which acts as a ticket to the conference. VeeFriends Series 1 holders got airdropped tickets for free, but they could also be bought on the secondary market for around 0.07 ETH right before the conference.
I’ve been to NFT NYC, Art Basel, and many other NFT events, but this was my first VeeCon. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the weekend.
The Main Stage
Thursday morning I went to Coffee with Captain (a popular daily Twitter Space) to meet up with Chris Jourdan and NFTbark (Steve). They had enough coffee and bagels to keep us going all day. I met some other folks from the dGen network there as well. These two and I go back to the 2021 bull market days, so it was wonderful to catch up with them. Like most degens, we talked about who we were looking forward to seeing at VeeCon, and when we thought our bags might go up again.
That afternoon a few more of my NFT friends came into town, including Lucky Trader legend Tyler. While getting dinner, I took a call outside and saw Farokh and ThreadGuy walking by– you can’t miss ‘em by their signature hair. “Hi, I’m corporate trash!” I blurted out. We had a quick hug to say hi, which was another cool little moment in the weekend.
My tag from Flextag was really helpful for people to identify me from the main place that we hang out: Twitter. Actually, I think I got more followers and followed more people after VeeCon than any other NFT conference.
I had to work on Thursday and Friday (hey, something’s gotta pay for these JPEGs), so the only full day I had at the conference itself was Saturday. But on Friday evening, I managed to scooter down to the unofficial Proof community meetup just before it started pouring rain. There, I met a ton of collectors from around the world, and more folks showed up than I thought. I got a Dead Birds Society POAP from there as well.
I also ran into the creators of The Worm NFT, and proceeded to have a fangirl moment. As Worm Disciple number 144, we reminisced on the early days of The Worm. That reminds me, I still need to order my iconic pink worm t-shirt.
Community Meetup at Garage Food Hall
The layout of the conference was spread throughout Lucas Oil Stadium, which is a behemoth of a venue. While there are 10,255 available tickets to VeeCon, I’d estimate that the total attendance was less than half of that. So although the community is fierce, it did appear sparse at times.
Upon entering, I was a given the choice to take a giant colorful slide in, or use the more dull stairs. I took the stairs because I’m no fun. I was pleasantly surprised at the high number of women I saw at the conference. There were also a couple of children there, plus a dog-petting station that was popular the entire time.
VeeCon Slide - Photo by Jen Stark
Walking through the NFTLand area was often reminiscent of more bullish times, with toy claw machines from Pudgy Penguins and World of Women, and people lining up to win Alien Frens plushies. I got lost several times walking around the stadium trying to find the different stages, but there was free coffee!
The main stage was populated with inspiring figures from the business world, including entrepreneurs, athletes, actors, artists, and other notable figures. I didn’t stay for any of the evening entertainers, although I’m a bit sad I missed Jordan Sparks.
On Saturday I got to the stadium early, and couldn’t believe that nearly all the VeeCon merch was already sold out. But I guess we’re suckers for a good merch opportunity. I went up to sit in the stands and was happy that I caught Guy Raz on the main stage, who hosts my favorite podcast How I Built This.
Later on, a panel hosted by Randi Zuckerberg was completely packed, as it featured Farokh (Rug Radio), Fonz (Tokenproof), Jesse Pollack (Base) and Richerd (Manifold). This seemed to be the most popular panel of the day, as they shared their thoughts on the current market.
The State of Web3 Panel
Jen Sutto hosted an amazing panel with Andre Oshea, Gfunk (Pixel Vault), and Pop Wonder. They had some great questions from the audience about how they’re getting through the bear, and how they react to fud. It was interesting to see these two artists alongside a founder like Gfunk, and how their responses differed. Jen’s next panel with MIKA, Vinnie Hager, Jen Stark, and Trevor Jones had some fascinating origin stories of these artists, and how NFTs enabled them to share their talents.
Another big draw was Luca Netz (Pudgy Penguins) on the panel about building web3 communities. Terry Tomonaga (8ships) and Andy Kraniak (VeeFriends) joined him, and they shared thoughts about transparency and building in public. Check out Tyler’s thread with some videos of Luca.
Jen Sutto with Pop Wonder, Gfunk and Andre Oshea
I was disappointed to see Carly Reilly (Overpriced JPEGs) and Snowfro (Art Blocks) were only given 15 minutes on the main stage to talk Art Blocks, but 15 minutes is better than nothing. Carly has a way of being both a curious and patient interviewer, while also contributing with her own deep knowledge of the space. So it was a good conversation regardless.
After spending many hours at Lucas Oil, a change of venue was needed. Some friends and I walked to the Wolf Game event offsite, where we may have truly been the only women there (at least at first). However, the community was pretty incredible– shout out to the WG crew. The free pizza and open bar had us playing giant Jenga outside, and battling on skeeball and arcade games all night.
For me, the top highlight of the weekend had to be Snowfro showing up to this event in his Woolish hoodie. I knew there were some big names in Wolf Game, but didn’t realize he was one of them.
I showed him my Chromie Squiggle and he was nice enough to print out a Polaroid and sign it for me. We talked about Art Blocks and Marfa, and he was an extremely nice guy. He was of course swiftly surrounded by collectors and fans who wanted to meet him, so I was happy that I got that opportunity.
Polaroid of my squig from Snowfro
My Final Thoughts
On the VeeCon main stage, Snowfro said that down cycles happen in crypto, and that he’s been through it before and will go through it again. Luca Netz claimed that NFTs will come back around in popularity again, and when they do, he and the Pudgies will be positioned to succeed from all their work during the bear.
Positive thoughts like these are what I’m leaving VeeCon with. For me, finding that line between hopium and doomscrolling can be a daily challenge. I believe in what these technologies can unlock, this community, and the talent within it. I also believe that whatever web3 evolves into will have value, both to the world and financially.
So, will I be at VeeCon next year? For me, it depends on what city it’s held in… but overall, I enjoyed the positive energy, the friendly people, and the opportunity to connect IRL. Indianapolis was easy to get around. It was an efficient place to hold the conference, although to me, the location was not super inspiring. I will say that the people were extremely welcoming everywhere I went.
Even if this all goes to zero one day, I can honestly say that at this point in my life, I never expected to make friends like this– especially when initially meeting them online. It’s been a really beautiful surprise that I hope continues for years to come.
For more information about VeeCon, check out the links below.