This Valentine’s Day, Mondelez India created a metaverse experience of a dinner date on the moon! Through augmented reality (AR), the couples were able to step into a portal and stroll around on the moon. Over a million consumers sent secret messages to their loved ones which were revealed to their partners on virtual moon. Titled, 'How Far Would You Go To Make Them Blush?', it was inarguably the first-ever dinner date on metaverse in India.

In IPL 2022, Nestle India is giving cricket fans an immersive experience on metaverse through its chocolate brand, Munch. It has launched limited edition packs featuring players from four IPL franchises. A scan of Munch packs takes consumers into an AR experience of cricket games and meeting digital avatars of players. Fans can click pictures with players through attractive AR filters.

And Tanishq has launched its bridal collection in metaverse under the ‘Rivaah’ brand; participants can even try the piece in ‘Rivaahverse’ using QR codes on mobile phones.

Large Indian firms are beginning to embrace the bold new world of Metaverse—an unexplored universe, often in 3D, AR or virtual reality! It is immersive, and almost as uncharted as internet was in early 90s (see What is Metaverse). It is ripe for exploration of newer business models, use cases and ways to engage stakeholders—be it customers, suppliers, dealers or employees. These unlimited possibilities have opened the race for first-mover advantage, for which an ecosystem of platform enablers, content creators and Web 3.0 communities is getting ready to build businesses of scale. Big money is set to back this dream. Funding in local sectoral start-ups touched $520 million in 2021 from $9 million in 2019, data from market research firm Venture Intelligence shows.

Up for grabs is what Goldman Sachs calls a $8 trillion global opportunity in five years, up from $100 billion today. India's own Metaverse-NFT economy—already worth an estimated $50-100 million annually—is picking up pace fast (expected to touch $100 billion by 2025). Action on the ground today, however, speaks larger than that value. "Globally, brands are already spending 2-5% of their digital budgets on NFTs (the most successful element of metaverse till date), and that could touch 30-40% in a couple of years. India won’t be an exception,” says Ramkumar Subramaniam, CEO and co-founder, GuardianLink, an NFT marketplace enabler. Madhur Singhal, managing partner & CEO, Praxis Global Alliance, says 10% of digital advertising spends will shift to metaverse in next few years. Digital advertising spends in India are projected to rise 33% to ₹48,603 crore in 2022 versus ₹36,554 crore in 2021.

Globally, digital marketing spends are expected to grow to $753 billion by 2026, from $407 billion today, according to Juniper Research. They have finally overtaken traditional spends, says Group M's This Year Next Year (TYNY) report on global advertising trends.

In India, where 65% of the population is below 35, marketers can’t afford not to be on metaverse. After all, the Gen-X is spending over 80% of its time on digital platforms. It took over a decade for marketers to embrace Web 2.0 wholeheartedly. With metaverse-led Web 3.0 knocking on their doors, they want to catch the bus in time. “In today’s audience, which is consistently interacting with brands in the digital space, metaverse will find many takers. Users would prefer to be part of this experience as it is not restricted by physical challenges,” says Puneet Das, president, packaged beverage, India & South Asia at Tata Consumer Products.

India Inc. Dips Its Feet

With metaverse building blocks still falling in place, for some of India’s largest firms, it’s a question of being in the right place at the right time. Many took time to embrace digital and lost to new-age brands. Few want to miss this time. “We will go where the consumer is. If we can create experiences which they have not been able to get in Web 2.0, value creation will happen in the long term,” says Anil Vishwanathan, chief marketing officer, Mondelez India.

But business models are still in infancy. So, corporate India has started dipping its feet purely for brand engagement. Monetisation can follow. “Metaverse has made communication far more experiential and immersive. These are early stages as most brands are trying to understand how they can lean on metaverse,” says Vishal Jacob, chief digital officer, Wavemaker (WPP’s digital marketing agency). No Indian brand has monetisation plans, he says. “Our approach is not about monetising,” says Tata Consumer Products' Das.

Vishwanathan of Mondelez says the company is doing Web 3.0 experiments every quarter. The objective is consumer engagement: “We will not hesitate to spend if a gaming opportunity comes up and we find a good brand fit.”

As part of a consumer connect initiative, ITC’s luxury chocolate brand Fabelle created a chocolate cart at the metaverse wedding on Tardiverse in February attended by 1,000-odd guest avatars, who could select their favourite chocolate. They were later delivered physically to guests. Coca-Cola India was beverage partner at another virtual wedding on YUG Metaverse. ITC also promoted its Fabelle brand there. A stall in the virtual wedding hall was branded with Coke cans. When guest avatars moved towards the beverage counter, they were welcomed by the brand’s jingle. Guests also received discounts and gift cards from the brands. In another metaverse party, Tata Consumer hosted Holi celebrations where consumers could create avatars, splash colours and play Holi games. Holi is all about music and folk songs, so composer-lyricist duo Sachet-Parampara brought alive Uttar Pradesh’s famed ‘Lathmar Holi’ and Delhi’s ‘Rangwali Holi’ through their music.

Other brands are also unfolding their plans. India’s leading tyre maker CEAT is creating a virtual tyre shop that will be integrated with its e-commerce platform. Consumers would shop on metaverse; the tyres would be home-delivered. Tech Mahindra is building DealerVerse on group firm Tech Mahindra's TechMverse. It will invite potential buyers to visit its virtual car dealership. The purchase can be made either in metaverse or in physical world.

New-age consumer brands are even more adventurous. Delhi-based coffee brand, Rage Coffee, has bought a plot on Decentraland—a metaverse platform—to set up a virtual storefront that is expected to go live by end-May. Investments are large, says Bharat Sethi, founder & CEO, but consumer engagement is top priority. “More than ROI, we are looking to create a buzz,” says Sethi.

NFTs: A Wholesome Business Model

With India Inc. still figuring out monetisation of metaverse as a whole, it is in one of its sub-components—NFTs—where business model is already in place (see What Are NFTs). While dropping an NFT—yes, launching NFT for users, buyers and consumers is called ‘dropping’—can be monetised by brands, artists, celebrities and creators, platforms charge a commission on sale and resale. The many enablers also charge a fee for technology and services.

NFT buyers, on their part, are driven by a craze to become the first to buy digital assets on metaverse in the hope of prices rising as more and more people join the bandwagon. NFTs have also taken off faster because most of them are bought and sold in cryptos, which have been lapped up by investors due to massive price appreciation. “NFTs have become an asset class in the Web 3.0 ecosystem,” says Sandesh B. Suvarna, vice president, WazirX NFT Marketplace.

Globally, NFT monetisation has taken off for big brands. In December 2021, sportswear giant Adidas announced its ‘Into the Metaverse Collection’. Adidas dropped 30,000 NFTs and within hours minted $22 million. The NFT owners got exclusive Adidas merchandise. Adidas had earlier bought virtual land on The Sandbox (a virtual world which enables individuals and brands to build, own and monetise virtual experiences) where it has built its virtual world, adiVerse. Its NFT owners got access to its exclusive virtual goods on adiVerse.

Swedish fashion brand Zara launched the AZ collection for digital avatars on metaverse in partnership with Arder Error art collective on Zepeto (which has over 200 million users) last year, and within hours attracted 50,000 users wanting to dress up their digital avatars in the AZ collection.

Back home, Chinese car maker MG Motors has launched 1,111 NFTs. Reliance-owned media company Viacom 18’s youth entertainment and English entertainment cluster has launched 3,013 NFTs from its Fully Faltoo collection. Anshul Ailawadi, head (youth, music and English entertainment), Viacom 18, claims all NFTs were sold within 48 hours. MTV fans, he says, lapped up NFTs of popular characters such as ‘Bakra or G.O.A.T’ and ‘Rangu The Champ’ within minutes. The price was $10-50. Going forward, these NFT owners will have access to opportunities within the Viacom ecosystem. “If you own an NFT, you could get to meet the IIFA award winner or an artist back-stage at the Vh1 Supersonic festival,” says Ailawadi.

Graphic India’s Chakra – The Invincible was one of BeyondLife.Club’s most successful NFT drops. The first drop, which took place on December 27, released 6,865 unique generative art pieces and was sold out in 51 seconds. The second release, the following day, contained 5,400 NFT comics. It was sold out in less than a minute. People from 14 countries participated in the auction, 22% from India. “We wanted to introduce one of the first big Indian superheroes to the world,” says Sharad Devarajan, who co-created Chakra along with Lee. These NFTs were priced between $25 and $100; one cost $1,000. While each fetched a four-fold premium, one $100 NFT traded at $4,000 in the secondary market.

The biggest attraction is perpetuity of revenue. NFTs ensure perpetual revenue flow for the issuer. So, if the buyer of Graphic India’s Chakra NFT (a comic character co-created with the iconic Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman, Hulk, X-Men and Iron Man) collection decides to trade it, Graphic India, by virtue of being the creator and original owner of the intellectual property, will get a percentage of proceeds from every subsequent sale. “The contract enables an artist to earn direct royalty from all future sales of his artwork, potentially forever, and without an intermediary,” says Graphic India’s founder Sharad Devarajan. Domestic NFT platforms WazirX NFT MarketPlace and BeyondLife.Club (powered by GuardianLink) attract 6.7 lakh and 2.9 lakh visitors, respectively, every month. In less than a year, WazirX has hosted 40,000 NFTs and sold 25,457. BeyondLife.Club has dropped NFTs of Amitabh Bachchan, Kalpana Chawla, Viacom 18 and Graphic India. It dropped 5,000 NFTs of Bachchan; all were sold.

Another reason why NFTs have so many takers is that, being powered by blockchain, they are transferable across platforms while metaverse avatars are not. So, even though Graphic India’s Chakra NFT was dropped on BeyondLife.Club, the secondary sale could happen on Wazir X or even a global platform like Sandbox. “The beauty of decentralisation is that if you create an NFT on a niche platform, we can pull that data and list it on our marketplace as well,” says Suvarna of Wazir X.

An interesting trend is mixing of physical and virtual worlds. D2C headphone brand Leaf Studios is working on a metaverse compatible headphone. When consumers buy headphones, it will drop the NFT in their MetaMask wallets. “The NFTs will let people unlock the headphone bought from us in metaverse as well,” says Paras Batra, co-founder, Leaf Studios. Most legacy brands have distinctive assets such as old advertisements or packaging that can be converted into NFTs. Some are looking at NFTs as a vehicle to give back to society. Vishwanathan of Mondelez says it has partnered with GuardianLink to launch NFTs whose proceeds will go to an NGO. The proceeds of MG Motors NFTs went to its MG Sewa programme, which supports girls’ education.

Subramaniam of GuardianLink believes NFTs will become more utility-driven than mere collectibles. “Utility NFTs are important in India, where the mindset is value. If they spend $10, they want a return of $30. Therefore, a gaming NFT will make more sense,” says Subramaniam, who expects utility NFTs to become a huge phenomenon in India within the next three-six months.

In India, Bollywood and sports celebrities have been among the earliest to monetise via NFTs. “For celebrities, metaverse is an opportunity to create value even when they are asleep. In the real world, getting a celebrity’s time is impossible. Through digital avatars, celebs can participate in events and bond with fans on metaverse,” says Namrata Singh, head, metaverse, SETVI (Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India).

An Ecosystem Of Platforms

Indian and global platforms are vying to create the universe on which NFTs and metaverse are being enabled. While global platforms such as Sandbox and Zepeto have attracted huge investments from marquee investors such as SoftBank, the Indian metaverse ecosystem is still nascent.

Among the domestic ones, YUG Metaverse and TardiVerse came into prominence early this year when they hosted metaverse weddings. YUG also hosted Tata Consumer's Holi party and Mondelez's dinner date. Vignesh Selvaraj, founder, TardiVerse, was running a mobile app development start-up until last year, when he decided to foray into metaverse. “When Facebook changed its name, we thought of ideas to do something on the metaverse,” says Selvaraj. The wedding was monetised by roping in brand partners such as ITC, CoinSwitch and Kuber, and charging the couple ₹2 lakh.

Companies are also coming up with newer business models. TardiVerse has added multi-lingual touch to its real-life avatars. “A Tamilian can speak in Tamil through his/her avatar. We don’t want people to miss anything in the virtual world. We are creating a world where people can go to work in metaverse, pub-hop and even watch a live football match,” says Selvaraj.

Utkarsh Shukla, founder & CEO, YUG Metaverse, says events were a preliminary ploy to get a foothold in the space. “We are building a lot of tools. You will see us creating a number of experiences."

According to Deloitte, India’s NFT market is set to hit $1 billion. There are domestic NFT marketplaces such as Wazir X NFT Marketplace (the first crypto currency platform which forayed into NFTs in June 2021) and GuardianLink’s BeyondLife.Club, as well as curated NFT platforms such as Fantico, which focuses on niches such as celebrity NFTs and rare coins, books and poems.

While WazirX Marketplace welcomes individuals and brands alike and has launched NFTs of Lakme India Fashion Week and Sunburn music festival, GuardianLink only works with companies for now. “The brands we work with are mostly Fortune 500 companies. We run their NFT P&L and work on a revenue-share deal for the long term,” says Subramaniam. GuardianLink has already signed on the dotted line with 10 corporates. Each brand has planned 3,000-15,000 NFTs for $10-100. Some priced at a premium of $150-250, even $1,000. “The sweet-spot is $10-50 and almost all have traded at a four-fold premium,” claims Subramaniam. Launched in 2020, GuardianLink has Series-A funding of $12 million from Kalaari Capital.

On the other hand, platforms such as FanCraze, Colexion and Rario are sports NFT platforms. FanCraze has a three-year deal with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for rights to its catalogue of video and audio clips going back to 1975. Like Vista Media Capital, there are a host of niche NFT platforms on their way. Trace Network Labs is building a fashion metaverse platform and claims to have already signed up with over 30 global brands. Similarly, Gurgaon-based Web 3.0 gaming start-up, Totality Corp, is developing a gaming metaverse platform. GuardianLink recently launched NFT gaming marketplace Jump.Trade. “You can buy NFTs and play games and earn money. Our first game is Meta Cricket League, a cricket NFT game where users can buy cricket players as NFTs. They could use them to play the game and earn,” says Subramaniam. Globally, sports NFTs alone are expected to generate more than $22 billion in transactions in 2022, according to Deloitte. By 2022-end, four-five million sports fans globally would have purchased NFTs or been gifted NFT sports collectibles, it adds.

All these NFT platforms are building metaverse solutions too. NFTs for them are a precursor to the metaverse. Revenue models for both marketplaces and niche platforms are almost the same. Apart from the platform fee charged from the creator, they also earn 5-10% from the royalty the creator gets each time an NFT is re-sold. The revenue share of niche platforms is slightly higher. While Fantico has dropped 300 NFTs so far, Wazir X, ever since its launch in June last year, has sold 25,000 NFTs. “Each time an NFT is sold, the royalty goes to the creator and we get a 15-20% share on an average,” says Abhayanand Singh, founder and CEO, Vistas Media Capital, which owns Fantico.

Former Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari’s Invact Metaversity will have a 3D immersive virtual learning platform which houses various virtual university campuses. Due for launch in May, the university has already enrolled 60 students out of a waiting list of 800. The focus right now is higher education; the 16-week Invact business fellowship programme is priced at ₹2 lakh. “Institutions like IIT-Madras have reached out to us,” says Maheshwari. On Invact Metaversity campus, a student from Mumbai can hang out with a friend from Delhi. They can even order food from Zomato and Swiggy; it will be home-delivered.

India has over 200 million gamers and that’s the immediate metaverse opportunity for players, says Anshul Rustaggi whose Totality Corp is developing a gaming metaverse platform, Zionverse, themed around Indian culture and mythology.

Eve’s World, founded by media industry veteran Tarun Katial (former CEO of ZEE5), is a decentralised social crypto platform, which will focus on building communities for women. “We will enable them to list their NFTs on other platforms as well,” says Katial.

Universe Of Enablers

India’s IT majors are also playing a significant role in building metaverse ecosystems. Since the domestic market is still nascent, the likes of TCS, Infosys and Wipro are currently developing solutions for global markets. TCS is leveraging Cloud, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to create extended reality solutions. "TCS AvapresenceTM Foundry (the company's metaverse solution) consists of core extended reality elements, used to assemble solution offerings across industry verticals, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences,” explains Ashok Maharaj, head of extended reality labs, TCS. The firm is building an NFT marketplace for a leading media company in U.S. and a mall on the metaverse for a fashion retailer. It is also creating virtual branches for a leading bank in U.K.

Infosys, meanwhile, has set up an immersive retail environment for Australian Open where fans can shop for branded merchandise and get them delivered at home. The IT major created a digital twin of a vaccine lab for a leading pharmaceutical company which helped quality engineers access critical data and arrive at decisions. “We started with enterprise AR/VR seven-eight years ago, evolving into more experiential XR (extended reality), followed with a strong blockchain practice. IoT, applied AI, digital twin engineering and Cloud are already mature practice areas for us,” says S. Ravi Kumar, president, Infosys.

Among the most active is Tech Mahindra, which calls its metaverse practice TechMVerse. The company has already launched solutions, including Middlemist, a platform through which it enables artists to list their pieces of art as NFTs. Chief digital services officer Kunal Purohit says the company is roping in partners who can provide 3D content.

L&T Infotech has set up a dedicated unit for metaverse under its global technology office to focus on co-innovation, implement use cases for clients and provide advisory services. “We are getting queries from clients in the media industry and technology and financial services. A few clients are taking steps to move their consumer-facing applications to make them AR/VR compatible,” says CEO and MD Sanjay Jalona.

At Wipro, “we see metaverse at two levels–building a new generation of hardware, software and networking technologies that will help it scale up, and developing and managing content and applications to realise it,” says chief technology officer Subha Tatavarti.

Many metaverse enablers are from the start-up ecosystem. Mumbai-based Ajna Lens builds AR/VR headsets and smart glasses for businesses and armed forces. Co-founder and CEO Pankaj Raut says headsets and glasses can simplify complex processes, especially those that entail expensive training and ground operations.

Mounting Challenges

Despite the excitement around metaverse and NFTs, the new digital universe faces a host of challenges. The ecosystem remains vulnerable on data protection and rights of participants. Facebook recently came under the lens after a woman said she was sexually harassed and “virtually gang-raped” in metaverse.

Enforcing contracts in metaverse is a challenge, says Arnab Basu, leader, advisory at PwC India. “There are no legislations for protection. Can you prevent underage employment in metaverse? Can you stop sexual harassment?,” says Basu. To ensure security and privacy in metaverse where boundaries between physical and digital get blurred is a hurdle, says Sreeram Ananthasayanam, partner, Deloitte India. “Avatars could be anonymous. What is the recourse for wrong behaviour?” he asks.

With introduction of virtual spaces, it will be necessary to establish laws to govern the industry, says Maharaj of TCS. Besides, there will be a need to create new approaches to protecting personal data, privacy and digital property, he adds.

One of the critical concerns with metaverse is the extent to which platforms can monitor and extract biometric data, including eye-tracking, gait-tracking and brain-wave monitoring. When these data points are married with existing datasets, the levels of profiling will have real-life implications in the form of greater online safety threats and even physical repercussions, says Kazim Rizvi, founding director at The Dialogue, a public policy think tank. The data generated on metaverse could be of an anonymous avatar but could become personal data when traced back to the natural person. “Verification of digital version of the natural person could also become murky due to existence of bots, deep fakes, manipulation and hacked avatars. This may cause problems in differentiating adults from children, who would require special protection,” explains Rizvi.

While the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 is likely to bring metaverse under its purview, it would need to pay attention to some of the nitty-gritty of regulating the ecosystem. “The Bill will significantly change the way data is currently regulated in India. However, that change is still some time away. The current framework under the IT Act treats limited types of information as sensitive personal data, and may not adequately cover individuals in the metaverse,” says Arun Prabhu, partner and head, TMT at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas.

“Your avatar could be taken hostage and it could be carrying valuable digital goods. One needs to see what consequences it will have under criminal law. Will this be mere hacking or is there an element of illegal restraint here? There can be establishments in metaverse like bars or hotels. Again, if an activity like gambling happens there, what will be the obligation of the virtual occupier/ owner? A lot of these concepts will have to be re-examined,” adds Prabhu.

Another hurdle for widespread adoption of metaverse is lack of interoperability across platforms—something regulators will need to address soon. For instance, would it be possible to transfer a digital avatar bought on one platform to others?

There is also the challenge of building capability—software, hardware and skills. Building engineering skills, scaling capabilities, developing enough monetisable use cases and investing in partnerships are not easy, says Infosys' Kumar.

Jacob of Wavemaker thinks it will be a while before brands go mainstream on metaverse. “The metaverse platforms being built today are largely on Web 3.0. So, when brands look to engage with consumers through NFTs or create assets for the metaverse for consumer adoption, the transactions are usually done through cryptocurrencies. Given that regulations around cryptocurrencies are still being formulated, there could be possible legal complications, which can be a deterrent,” he says.

Most large businesses don’t want to dabble in cryptocurrency as long as it's not legal. “As a company in the IP business, we have no interest in cryptocurrency. We are talking to platforms where the buyer can buy NFTs using rupees. We don’t want cryptocurrency on our books,” says Vikram Mehra, managing director, Saregama India. According to Denis Laidegaillerie, CEO of Paris-headquartered music company, Believe, NFTs are not an alluring business proposition. “Less than 8% of the population in most countries have a crypto wallet. Therefore, you are talking only to a small sub-segment of your audience.”

In fact, of late, NFT buyers have been moving away from platforms, according to a report by NFT tracker CryptoSlam. NFT sales dipped 50% to $4.6 billion in January, and $2.44 billion in end-March. The number of unique buyers dropped from 9.98 lakh in January to 6.4 lakh in March and currently stands at 3.81 lakh (for April), a 66.5% fall.

Moreover, transacting in crypto could limit the market. If a studio releases an NFT on exclusive dialogues from an 80s blockbuster, older audiences would be interested in buying it. But they typically shy away from crypto. Platform owners understand the merits of looking beyond crypto and are enabling rupee payments. “We let users pay through cards. As a technology platform, we ensure we convert that into Ethereum or Polygon,” says Subramaniam of Guardian Link.

IP rights is another grey area. The NFT of Amitabh Bachchan’s Shahenshah costume did fetch an astronomical amount, but the rights are with Tinnu Anand, producer of the film. Bachchan has no stake in the NFT deal. There are other issues as well. “If Rohit Sharma drops NFTs of his popular match-winning moments, he needs to find out whether he has the rights to it or has to buy it from the BCCI. Hence, most sportsmen dropping NFTs are focusing only on memorabilia they own,” explains the CEO of a sports management company.

Former Ogilvy CEO, Pratap Bose, an art collector, recently bought 15 NFTs of Gobardhan Ash at the country’s maiden art NFT auction. Bose himself is planning to set up an art NFT platform. However, for an art collector to drop NFTs won’t be easy. “Despite owning the art which I bought from an artist, to drop an NFT, I will need to seek permission from him/her. There are a lot of legal issues involved," explains Bose. “It is only if it's over 50 years since the artist’s death that the collector will have full rights to the artist’s work,” he adds.

Priyanka Khimani, founder, Khimani & Associates, a global IP & media rights consulting firm, agrees IP ownership in the virtual world is complex. “If somebody wants to take posters or a studio’s catalogue and sell it as digital art, they would be using the studio’s copyright and would have to take permission,” she explains.

Even though grey areas exist, the $8-trillion global opportunity seems irresistible for Indian entrepreneurs, corporates, creators and other stakeholders. It will be a question of fixing the broken parts as we progress on the metaverse journey.

Creating avatars and selling or licensing them has become a huge business globally. BAYC (Bored Apes Yacht Club) is one of the most successful NFT creators whose business revolves around avatars of the 10,000 apes it has created. Its NFT collection has only 6,422 unique owners, resulting in total transactions of more than $3.18 billion, creating incredible royalties for creators.

Indian avatar creators are catching on. Gurgaon-based Trace Network Labs, which is building a fashion metaverse platform, has an avatar creating arm, Buddy. Lokesh Rao, CEO and co-founder, says the company is trying to solve the problem of interoperability as their avatars can be accessed on any metaverse platform. “Right now, every time you want to enter a new metaverse platform, you have to create a new avatar,” says Rao. Buddy subscribers can create own avatars which will be fashioned as NFTs. Users will have to pay a fee every time they mint an NFT.

Bangalore-headquartered My3d Meta promises to convert a 2D image into a 3D avatar in one-tenth the usual time. It is also in the business of licensing digital avatars (avatars are developed by the start-up) of celebrities and placing them in brand campaigns. “Once you convert the model into 3D, you can do brand placements the way you want,” says Saurabh Sharda, an investor in My3d Meta. The start-up recently acquired digital rights of icons Thomas Alva Edison, Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe.

Harsha P. Deka, founder and CEO, My3d Meta, is especially excited about the launch of his community platform for dog lovers. “We are empowering dog lovers to come to our platform, pick their favourite breed, customise with accessories, create a funky avatar and mint it as an NFT or use it in the metaverse.

While My3dMeta is into licensing digital rights for celebrities, Hyderabad-headquartered Ikonz has forayed into the comic book space by acquiring the digital IP for Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle. Abinav Kalidindi, founder and CEO, says popular characters such as Pandavas, Shambu and Supandi will soon have digital avatars on the metaverse. “We will do editions of Amar Chitra Katha covers and release them as NFTs.”

Epic Games, popular for console games such as Fortnite, is creating games that will enable players earn through components such as designing products. “You cannot only drive a Ferrari but also get to design one. People are becoming productive on metaverse," says Arvind Neelakantan, tech evangelist, India/ASEAN, Epic Games.

(With inputs from Avneet Kaur)

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