Applying first principle thinking to ASMR NFTs

“This idea is stupid.”

I was sitting in the third meeting with a creative, deeply passionate founder, he was convinced there was a market for ASMR audio files tied to NFTs. And really, I was getting frustrated as i couldn’t see what he was seeing, but, in my position as an advisor, I’m obliged to listen, look for opportunities, keep an open mind and ultimately resist being judgemental.

I found myself breathing deeply, “this isn’t you’re business, its not your passion, its not your risk, just try to keep an open mind”, The frustration was getting to me.


“ASMR is any sound that creates a tingling sensation…” the founder proclaimed “like, you can feel it! it literally changes you!”

Like a lightbulb it hit me and suddenly I realised what he was going on about, suddenly this idea wasn’t so stupid, it wasn’t crazy, actually it was pretty cool. He was just struggling to articulate some very complex concepts.

“your business in’t about NFTs, its not about sounds, its about collecting feelings and sensation” It was clear, we had found the lynchpin, “Sounds act like a trigger, think pavlovs dog, think about tibetan singing bowls, think about how Alpha waves literally change how the mind responds, your business is about collecting these audio triggers”

we had helped the founder find a path through his maze and it was clear he felt like he had turned a corner in trying to get the rest of us to finally understand his idea.

Looking at this case, i realise what we’d managed to do was actually pick through the noise and hype and apply first principle thinking to reverse engineering his idea.

first principle is a basic assumption that cannot be deduced any further. This was popularised recently by Elon Musk as one of the ways he approached thinking about and building SpaceX, the premise being to distill the components to their core elements and rebuild up from there, speaking about comparing the cost of a buying a rocket versus the core components Elon Musk stated “What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around two percent of the typical price.” – implying that 98% of the cost was taken up by intermediary elements that could be economised on.

When we looked at the ASMR NFT company, we’d managed to distill what ASMRs were really doing and that understanding shifted our thinking from thinking of the ‘technology’ of ASMR as a ‘thing’ to what effect (on a customer or user) ASMR has, i.e. the triggering of a sensation or feeling. And by using this description (the triggering of a sensation or feeling) as the focal point, we were able to instantly change the understanding of what the company was trying to do.

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