It’s been a crazy year so far with the explosion of NFTs and the rise of dGen culture that highlights the merits of decentralization as well as a splash of “degeneracy” just for fun. Hence, the NFT space is ripe for a project that explores mental health issues that can only happen at the edge of the rapidly developing society we inhabit. Enter, DinoMonks—a creative and fun, but also intentional and meaningful project created to amplify attention towards mental health issues. Our hosts, Eathan Janney, Jeff Kelley & Josh Kriger have great chat with project founder Roman Tirone, an NFT connoisseur, and an all-around great guy.
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DinoMonks, The First NFT Project Focused Solely On Mental Health And Wellness, Featuring Founder Roman Tirone
This special sponsored episode is brought to you by our featured collaborator, DINOMONKS, the first NFT project focused on mental health utility in the NFT space. Our guest is Roman Tirone, the DINOMONKS’ Founder. He started his career in entertainment, cutting his teeth at some of the world’s biggest talent agencies such as WME and CAA. He then pivoted into tech starting his own app development company, The Rumble Company. He now works alongside some of the brightest minds in the NFT world as Head of Partnerships at ZED RUN, pushing forward what the future of sports looks like and redefining fandom. Roman, welcome to the show.
It’s wonderful to be back here. You guys couldn’t keep me off the show. I need to come back as soon as I can.
It’s been a while, which as we know is like a year in NFT time. We often ask our readers what they want us to cover and they’ve been telling us that they want to learn more about specific projects and drops and get into the nuts and bolts of how these things come to be. It’s serendipitous that you’re working on this cool project and you wanted to share more about it with folks. We’re excited to have you here.
I’m super excited to share what DINOMONKS is and a little bit about our roadmap, mission, vibe and what we’re trying to accomplish and making a difference. It’s an honor to be on here and be able to talk about it.
This is DINOMONKS. If you’re thinking about a monk, you’re not too far off. Tell us more. What is this all about? How do we understand this interesting NFT world that you’re creating?
To get a full idea of the scope of the project, the roadmap and what it is, we got a professionally done trailer to get people hyped up for it. I’d love to bring that up and let people understand the Jurassic element to it. From there, I’ll break down exactly what it is and how it works.
Let’s go ahead and do that. I know you guys have developed an incredible Instagram account here.
That is not DINOMONKS. That’s the best name I’ve ever seen for a dog.
This is what I was talking about. You have Twitter nailed down but if you go to Instagram and search DINOMONKS, someone has made a beautiful time of their poor puppy and put it in a lot of stupid costumes.
They’re going to wonder in a few weeks why they have 10,000 new followers.
They’re going to have to also follow DINOMONKS on Instagram as well as Twitter.
It’s the unofficial mascot.
We’re going to check out the video though. It’s awesome. Did you have to recruit actual dinosaurs? Where do you find dinosaurs?
They are super-duper divas and tough to work with but once you get to know them, you break them in a little bit, they’re a pleasure to be around and work with. We are happy to have them on set.
You can feel that bass. That was powerful.
It’s very Jurassic. We’re excited about it. Ultimately, you saw a little bit in the trailer, a community-focused on wellness.
You can’t get that as stock footage. Do you have to have a 3D graphics person put that together?
My brother is a talented videographer and was able to put that together for us. Some of it was stock footage and the other was a little bit more custom work. I definitely got lucky. The essence of the project is focused on community wellness. For those who are new to this space and are coming into this NFT space, it’s important to build community. It’s a 10,000 profile picture avatar project, which means that there’ll be 10,000 unique items randomly generated in a rarity hierarchy that you can buy.
Ultimately, when you have a DINOMONK, it means you have access to the NFT wellness initiatives that we’re going to be putting forth for the Discord, the group, the community. It’s a place where people can come and find resources where people are sharing their stories, where people are open about the mental health issues that maybe they haven’t confronted yet or are in the midst of confronting. Ultimately, we’ll be participating in the wellness arena and putting together workshops for people to learn more, guided meditations, and mental wellness workshops. Also, a bevy of other resources that allow for people to connect on a deeper level as a community.The DinoMonks are supposed to be mental wellness personified in a lot of ways. They're the essence of balance and strength. Click To Tweet
There’ll be some resources there if they are having that bad day. There’s a lot to be said about being a resource that may be even if 1 or 2 people have that shift in momentum in their day, who knows? It could be a difference-maker. For us, it’s about being that place for the NFT community specifically that’s digitally native and allowing them to express themselves, get the support they need, and have fun doing it.
Where did the idea come from to support mental wellness? We’ve seen many different types of projects out there but this is the first one that’s tackling this subject.
We have four founders and I’m one of the founders. We have a software engineer named Renee Russo who’s onboard. Travis Winn and we have a licensed psychologist named Giselle Barbosa. We all have had our own bouts with mental health issues, whether it be battling depression or somebody close to us committing suicide. It’s something that we all want to champion as a value that’s important to us and spread that. Especially as this ecosystem grows and communities begin to form, we don’t want that to be left behind. We want it to be at the forefront of what we’re creating. For us, the DINOMONKS are supposed to be the mental wellness personified in a lot of ways. They are supposed to be the essence of balance and strength. It could be silly. Ultimately, the lore behind it is fun and powerful. The idea itself came from contributing something to the metaverse that’s our own.
What I’ve seen too is a balance within the world of crypto investing. The blockchain of NFTs is tough because it’s there 24/7. If I think about how it can consume your life, I could definitely see a strong need for this within the community. A lot of people are probably struggling with balancing their involvement in the space with their personal lives and in some cases, other forms of work.
We’ve been throwing around this idea that that’s probably going to be part of the Edge of NFT brand a little bit in the near future called the Edge Effect. It’s a biology term of the edge between two different populations mixing and the interesting speciation and behaviors that happen at those edges. What I find interesting about this project is we were also talking about the word degeneracy before we started. The NFT space gets a little bit degenerate. Josh is talking about getting his gummy bears and his fluffy bunnies.
To be clear, that’s Roman’s fluffy bunny and my gummy bear.
It’s interesting that we’re here at the edge between degeneracy and mental health.
When you talk about the inception of the idea where it came from, it’s all fun and games and everyone will talk about their wins and how much money they’re making. Ultimately, to be that beacon of light and support for the other side and adding that balance is what DINOMONKS is all about.
I had asked you what you meant when you went utility in terms of mental health utility in the NFT space. Maybe that’s a good jumping-off point for how you can say you’re specifically thinking of supporting mental health awareness and mental health.
There are a couple of different ways we’re doing it and that’s a great segue for our roadmap. Right after the drop, we’ll be contributing $25,000 to a mental health cause chosen by the community and we’ll be auctioning off four 1 of 1 rare elemental MONKS, fire, water, earth and wind. Eighty percent of those proceeds will be going directly to charity. The other 20% will be going to our artist who we love so much, Adam Smoot. He’s done an amazing job. That’s right after the drop.
What is his background?
I tweeted out, “Who’s an artist that wants to work on an NFT project?” He messaged me and he did a couple of sketches and it looked amazing. I never asked what his background was.
Back to the story, you’re talking about mental health awareness.
Initially, post-drop, that’s what we’ll be doing, and then we’re going to be starting our community initiatives, which is the utility behind mental health wellness that will be given to the community. That means weekly group wellness sessions and experiences, guided meditations, group wellness sessions, weekly AMAs with experts in the field like psychology, meditation, mindfulness and motivation. Professional resources are made available to our community.
There’ll be times where the DINOMONKS team covers a bunch of different workshops or sessions that users can sign up for free if you own a DINOMONK. Ultimately, you also have access to the “monastery” and that will be a wellness space where people and the community members can practice wellness on their own and interact, be there, share art and do things. Whether it be in the future in a metaverse space or it’s going to start out in the Discord. We haven’t announced that yet. It’s a space ultimately to come spread peace, love and support for one another.
To round that out, every 2.5% of all secondary sales. Typically for you guys, secondary sales are every sale that doesn’t happen on the drop. If you sell your DINOMONK, there’s a 5% rake that goes back to the company for NFT projects. We’ll be taking 5%, split in three different ways. The 2.5% will be given directly to a cause every month that the community can choose. The other 2.5% will be to roadmap developments and outreach initiatives. We’re trying to attack and support our DINOMONKS community while also giving back to the existing mental health causes out there.Ultimately, to be that beacon of light and support for the other side, adding that balance is what DinoMonks is all about. Click To Tweet
You’ve got a good size team here from what I can tell from your website. There’s a lot that goes into these projects that people don’t understand in terms of thinking about the design aesthetic, rarity, and programming the contract in the right way so everything goes smoothly. Can you talk a little bit more about what the process has been to get to now where we’re able to have this conversation?
It’s funny because I work at Virtually Human studios, which is the company behind ZED RUN. A lot of companies out there, I’m blessed to be and have the higher-ups that we do at the founders of ZED RUN. They embraced that creative and entrepreneurial spirit that I, Travis, Giselle and Renee haven’t shown because we have another job. This is a passion project. They could have easily said, “We don’t want you working on this. It’s going to take too much time.” Instead, they empowered us and said, “Go for it. This is an amazing initiative. Mental health is important to us too. We have your back 100%.” For me, that was the springboard to be like, “We’re doing this for real. Let’s put together the Avengers of the NFT space. Let’s make it happen.” From there, we hired an artist and a smart contract developer. There’s a couple of ancillary parts mixed in there. Things can be out there quite quickly. We’ve been working hard to make sure the job on September 2nd, 2021 is going to be smooth.
Going back a little bit to the question I asked about the meaning of degeneracy and mental health. It made me think of a couple of friends. There’s a guy named Dr. Fred Moss who has a podcast he calls Welcome to Humanity. He and another friend are starting another podcast which is called the Insanity Podcast. That’s Dr. Fred Moss and Sam Morris. Fred Moss is a psychiatrist but he doesn’t like to prescribe traditional medicines. He’s anti-traditional medicines.
The whole idea of the Welcome to Humanity podcast is that people think they have their oddballs in a mental health sense. His whole idea is, “Welcome to humanity. We’re all humans and we’ve got the ways that we are. Let’s face that from that angle.” The Insanity Podcast is about being inside of sanity. It’s playing around with this idea of, “What is insane anyway?” We should make an introduction and maybe they can get you on their podcast as well because you’d have a lot of fun talking about mental health. You mentioned it briefly and I know we wanted to make sure that the readers know. What’s the drop date here?
It’s September 2nd, 2021 and the time will be announced.
Sit on the edge of your seat and wait.
The anticipation will be building for sure as we get to that day.
Where are folks gathering? Do you have a community already building now where people are talking about this like Discord or other places where people can learn more and get excited about what’s coming?
Congruent with a lot of the other NFT projects that are happening right now, we have a fun and amazing community on Discord where people are already sharing their stories. Every day, we post in the meditation room, the physical health room and the thought room. We write different quotes. People share their outreach ideas and they introduce themselves to one another. It’s interesting to see culture and community begin to grow within a Discord. We’re closing in on 700 Discord users. The community is getting excited and growing. We’re also on Twitter, @DinoMonks. I encourage people to learn more about the project on Discord and keep an eye on our Twitter as we drop new teasers of cool stuff that’s on the way.
Community is critical to this. The whole concept is built around supporting the community and this is the beginning of that. Is there anything else you want folks to know about the project, the drop, the community and what to expect here?
Most of the DINOMONKS are raptors. They have different skins, colors and trinkets that they wear, outfits that are indicative of their place in the DINOMONKS society. There are familiar traits, whether it be laser eyes, some golden skins and maybe some trippier things. There are also things that are unique to the DINOMONKS. One of the coolest things that we have coming in this drop are fifteen 1 of 1 Tyrannosaurus rex that is each modeled after a different deity and have an amazing artistic look that’s super-duper unique.
You can go to Dinomonks.com. During the drop, you can mint up to twenty DINOMONKS at a time. They’re priced at .08 per mint. You have a chance to mint one of these T-Rexes, which we’d imagine are all 1 of 1 done by artists. They look amazing. That’s something fun. I can’t wait to see who ends up with the T-Rexes, how they flex it, and the exciting part that goes along with that. It’s a lot of fun.DinoMonks is a space to spread peace, love and support for one another. Click To Tweet
We’ll also be giving the number one mint DINOMONK away right before the drop to somebody in our Discord. It’s the only one we’re holding back. I’m excited about the drop mechanics of what’s coming in. We have a special airdrop coming right after the drop. There is some cool stuff. We have a baked out roadmap because we’re excited and we’re committed to this.
Community building is important in these projects. How did you decide how to give that special NFT away to someone in Discord? What were your criteria for that?
We still haven’t given it away. Right up to the drop, we’ll be giving the number one mint away. It’ll be somebody in the Discord that was randomly selected on the last night. Ultimately, to your point about building community, we haven’t been shilling and we haven’t been paying for advertisements. We’ve just been hosting these talks with people who are sharing their story like Josh Ong. Michael Carter-Williams has come on. We’re going to be having Ja Rule and some prominent figures that I’m excited to talk to.
It’s amazing to hear their story and understand that no matter how successful you are, how different your life may seem from someone else, everybody goes through something and everybody gets challenged. Sharing the little details of how they were able to overcome some of life’s obstacles have been powerful in building our community. We also do weekly meditations. People can come in, drop into a guided meditation by one of our residents, “Monique.” She leads people through a relaxing and calming experience. That’s been an excellent way for people to come in and organically find the platform.
Mental health has been such a big issue in the news. The spotlight has shone at the Olympics in 2021 with some athletes and them admitting, “I’m human and I’m having a difficult day.”
Let me go back to some of the attributes and some of the traits. You got to have some favorites among this group of traits here. Give us a few that you’re super excited about personally.
I would love to show you guys one of my favorite ones. This is one of our cooler ones. We have the DINOMONK Supreme merch with the red laser eyes and the robot skin in a matte gray background. It’s super aesthetically pleasing if you ask me. For me, this is my favorite trait, the DINOMONK merch, and the red laser eyes. We have some other creative ones too like Mohawks and some references to pop culture.
The hierarchy of ropes is important in the MONK culture. You’ll see a lot of different takes on illustrations and designs that are meant to symbolize the “society” of DINOMONKS. The rarity is driven by the lore, but this one is super cool and clean and I’m excited about that. I’m excited about people rolling high on those DINOMONKS, sharing them and letting that be part of that digital identity, letting it show that you support the other DINOMONKS. You’re overall a person that wants to be part of the community.
For the readers, a quick overview. There’s a hoodie-ish, robe-ish thing. Is that what you would describe what this DINOMONK is wearing?
That’s a hoodie.
On the hoodie, it says Dinomonk. You got some nice cool branding there.
Also, in the style of Supreme.
A nice, proud, tall, confident-looking MONK with some spiky hairdo. The skin is a mix between leathery reptile skin and robot skin. The eyes are laser eyes. That’s because all dinosaurs had laser eyes. Is that where that comes from?
Because Bitcoin is hitting $200,000, we’re all going to have great mental health. We know money doesn’t create happiness but it’s certainly fun to think about Bitcoin going over $100,000.
Roman, you got a chance to flex the DINOMONK that you like and you mentioned this idea of flexing. We didn’t get a chance yet in this episode, although it’s appropriate because you’re with ZED RUN, that our horse, Purple Elf, happens to be number six in popularity on OpenSea among all of the items listed in ZED RUN. Let me know if I’m wrong on this because this seems incredible. Does this sound right that there are about 82,000 items that are ZED RUN?
That sounds exactly right.We know money doesn't create happiness, but it's certainly fun to think about Bitcoin going over a hundred thousand dollars. Click To Tweet
How’s that for a flex? 82,000 items on ZED RUN and we’ve achieved number six in popularity on OpenSea.
You got to get it up to number one.
We’re going to do it. We talked about maybe doing a giveaway for this show. We’re going to create some incentives here to fix the situation because we don’t like to finish sixth in life.
Heart Breaker is number one. We have 29 likes and Heart Breaker’s got 74. We can easily and handily beat that. We could break Heart Breaker’s heart with the best of mental health intentions for Heartbreaker, but I’m just saying.
We all have our paths.
If ever Heart Breaker needs support from the community, we are there. We have a great resource.
We got hugs.
I’m excited. I should go on there right now. It sounds awesome. I’m a big fan of Purple Elf. Since the last episode, I’ve been keeping up. It looks like you guys are good stable owners. That’s good to see.
We take care of her. We give her tasty carrots, fresh, organic ones.
Purple only, but indeed. Roman, it is great to have you on again and hear about everything you’re doing with DINOMONKS. We’re excited about the drop. We’ll be right there with you trying to score some sweet ones and be part of the community.
Thank you for having me. September 2nd, 2021, DINOMONKS. Follow us on Twitter. You can join our Discord. We’re doing a lot of fun giveaways. Thanks, guys. It’s always a pleasure. I’m looking forward to doing some more stuff with you.
What is the specific giveaway that you had in mind here for our readers to celebrate the launch of this project?
Let’s do a ZED RUN horse.
We breed a new horse and we symbolically name it after the DINOMONKS Edge of NFT episode in some way. I’m thinking about that.
I’ll breed it when I load up some WETH and I’ll send it over to you. I’ll name it Edge of DINOMONK.
Let’s go for it.
I don’t think that name will be taken so we should be good. I’ll try to get it purple so you guys can stay on brand but I can’t promise.
I’m thinking of Purple EON DINOMONK.
We can name it whatever you guys want. I don’t care. I love the idea.
Can we do Josh Jr.?
Edge of DINOMONK sounds great. It’s great having you on. We’ve reached the outer limit at the Edge of NFTs for this episode. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on the starship so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to iTunes, rate us and say something cool, and then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Want to help co-create Edge of NFT with us? Got a guest you want to see on the episode? Questions for the hosts or guests? An NFT you’d like us to review? Drop us a line at Contact@EdgeOfNFT.com or tweet us @EdgeOfNFT to get in the mix. Lastly, be sure to tune in to the next episode for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- ZED RUN
- show – past episode with Roman Tirone
- Twitter – @DinoMonks
- DINOMONKS – Instagram
- Discord – DINOMONKS
- Virtually Human
- Welcome to Humanity
- Purple Elf
- Heart Breaker
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
- EdgeOfNFT – Twitter
About Roman Tirone
Head Of Partnerships at ZED.Run & VHS | Founder of The Rumble Company