With the rising number of decentralized blockchain projects, we talked with Yaroslav Shakula, CEO & Founder of YARD Hub, one of the rising companies in the space to get a closer view of what is happening in the market today. YARD Hub is a Dubai-headquartered venture studio focusing on Web 3, non-fungible token (NFT) and Play-and-Earn startups and other blockchain entrepreneurial ideas.

The company encompasses the venture capital field having deployed a Special Ops team to tackle the trickiest challenges and help the projects find their product-market fit. It offers blockchain startups a wide range of services including venture building, startup building, incubation, entrepreneurship, fundraising, funding, and venture capital

Hello Yaroslav, thanks for joining us. Could we start off by briefly explaining to our readers what YARD Hub is all about and the journey your team has taken till now?

YARD Hub is a Web3/NFT/P2E venture studio based in Dubai as a DIFC Innovation Hub resident. YARD Hub incubates projects from idea to initial fundraising and company setup, providing founders with turnkey product management, tech, marketing and business development support.

YARD Hub core team members are frequent participants and speakers at blockchain, gaming and startup-related events.Right now we are working on a set of portfolio projects which will hopefully contribute greatly to the Web3 future.

Some of our audience may be unfamiliar with the role of venture studios in the Web 3/ NFT/ P2E space. Kindly explain the role of these projects and how sustainable the model is in building a startup. Do you see venture studios becoming the future of Web 3, replacing the VCs?

Let’s define venture studios for a start. These are organizations fully dedicated to systematically creating new ventures from scratch. As such, venture studios most definitely won’t replace VCs as they have evolved to complement the VC model and strengthen it rather than disrupt or replace it. Venture studio increases the chances of successfully turning ideas into ventures and helps eliminate mistakes that founders make during the early stages while also handling the burden of back office processes along with HR and legal services. For VCs, venture studios are a source of high-quality projects they can invest in.

Venture studios will cater to the growth and quality of the Web3 industry, which is still young and lacks experienced founders and well-tested frameworks. Venture studios help tackle the problems that any startup experiences and Web3 is no exception here.

YARD Hub currently uses its funds to fund its operations and provide seed funding to the projects, Briefly break down some of the top startups that are supported by YARD Hub’s venture studio and the value they provide to their respective ecosystem.

Yes, thank you. Over the course of our lifespan, we have helped several blockchain startups begin their journey to offer their users the optimal product-market fit and grow into successful businesses. Some of the companies we are working with include:

​​DeepMine is a Play-and-Earn social economy strategy. Its sophisticated and well-balanced economic system creates an immersive experience and sustainable long-term ROI. The Beta version of DeepMine will be released in the upcoming fall weeks.

The company is a two-time winner of the AIBC GameFi Awards in 2022, giving users a new play-and-earn model rather than the conventional play-to-earn games. It also provides a dystopian game atmosphere that captures the excitement of the gamers, making it fun while earning at the same time.

Secondly, Petobots is the cross-chain NFT collection with simple yet entertaining PVP games integrated into the DeepMine metaverse.

The third startup we are working with is Cryptoalma, a learn-to-earn platform where users earn crypto rewards while learning Web3 skills. We want to revolutionize the studying paradigm of web2 and simplify access to the in-demand educational resources about Web3.

Fourthly, BeNFT is a platform that provides NFT-based turnkey business solutions. The product is aimed at entrepreneurs looking for quick ways to launch a Web3-based business.

CarBar is a platform that provides rights to rent luxury cars in Dubai as NFTs [built on BeNFT platform].

Also, NCWallet is a modular crypto wallet customizable for any business needs.

As seen, YARD Hub’s portfolio of startups is well diversified across P2E games such as DeepMine, NFT projects (BeNFT) and other Web 3 companies. What are some of the benefits and challenges you face having such a broad spectrum of startups on your portfolio instead of focusing on just one, let’s say NFT startup alone?

The venture studio model allows founding and running different projects in various domains instead of being focused on a particular project/industry. Our business implies crafting a framework for the iterative creation of businesses and providing founders with the right resources, investments and connections.

Many classic venture studios are domain-agnostic as they work on projects from very different industries, and we preach the same approach. However, our global focus is Web3 and when we add new projects to our portfolio, we make sure they are aligned in the sense that they all are mutually beneficial. This is the way they contribute to the YARD Hub ecosystem. Projects within a Hub can be clients to each other: for example, when we launch a new game, we can test it via one of our other projects providing users’ feedback.

Blockchain gaming and NFTs were undoubtedly the fastest growing sectors in Web3 during 2021 and part of this year. However, many projects are failing with users complaining of poor graphics, excess focus on P2E rather than fun, and lack of multichain connectivity as the biggest reasons to abandon these games. What is your view on this and how can game developers boost the adoption of blockchain games in the future?

Yes, blockchain gaming is one of the fastest developing industries. I'm not talking about the number of players or the state of technology or investment volumes (they do increase, though, and we see more and more multi-million deals). My point is in how this industry is evolving in terms of approach towards gameplay and community building, towards blockchain and integration into the gaming process. Play-to-earn has already evolved into play-and-earn and new paradigms keep arising.

We will definitely see more games, maybe even AAA-rated titles emerging in the blockchain gaming market. Traditional game publishers are already looking into ways to integrate blockchain into their processes. We see how this industry evolves and matures: from simple clicker games (basically gamified DeFi mechanisms like staking) to sophisticated P&E strategies with elaborate lore and engaging gameplay. It’s also important to understand how blockchain can actually improve the game instead of making it unnecessarily complex.

The question I'd ask before rating any blockchain game is this: if we remove blockchain from it, will it be still interesting to play, will it still engage gamers and/or incentivise them to pay for the opportunity to play this game? If the game is engaging and interesting by itself, but you’re adding some extra economy layer for an opportunity to earn money for in-gaming skills or for the time spent completing challenges, then it’s probably a good blockchain game.

Could mergers and acquisitions be the key that unlocks the scaling and expansion of Web 3, NFT and P2E games across the globe?

Many mergers and acquisitions are already happening. We see companies from the traditional sector acquiring blockchain companies and vice versa. This is how new ventures are created and I believe this is something super important for the whole industry. For example, our venture studio examines a few potential co-venture projects with companies outside of the blockchain industry. They have nothing to do with Web3, but they are exploring this sector and it may well end up in us creating some joint ventures or in them investing in our studio.

I believe this mutual M&A trend will only keep gaining momentum in the upcoming years. Of course, a lot will depend on the macroeconomic situation and on geopolitics, because they do have a huge impact on investment strategies. But overall, I believe this is something that will open new opportunities because when a huge company from a traditional sector acquires a blockchain startup, it incorporates its technologies into its business process, but at the same time, it already has an established database of clients and access to different markets.

Therefore, this huge company can open the door to blockchain technology within this established industry. In other words, companies from traditional sectors can prompt mass adoption of the newest technologies via Web3 startup acquisitions.

How is YARD Hub pushing its startups to grow despite the current bear market?

Instead of pushing startups to grow, we’re focusing on building high-quality products, testing hypotheses and validating ideas. Also, we’re developing customer relationships and making connections. I would say we're getting our portfolio companies ready for the new crypto spring whenever it comes. It doesn't mean that we are waiting for the bull run in the short term, but our current focus is on building and exploring potential opportunities. We think that now it's not the right time to over-invest in growth, especially when it comes to emerging technologies such as Web3. Bear market is a great opportunity to explore and build — that’s what we are doing right now.

Finally, could you give our readers an outlook on the Web 3 ecosystem (NFTs, P2Es) venture space in the coming year?

As I've already said, a lot will depend on the macroeconomic situation. Venture companies and private equity funds are sitting on a huge amount of cash. Their business effectively is to invest, so they can't just sit out and wait forever. If they don't invest, they will probably have problems with raising more cash in the future.

Despite the bear market, we see new mergers and acquisitions, and the flow of investment in Web3 companies is relatively steady. We do a weekly overview of all those deals on our LinkedIn. I believe this market tends to double or quadruple every year, but the overall macroeconomics conditions should be better because Web3 is still a highly risky path. That is why during turbulent times like those we are in right now, capital tends to stay on the safe side. But as they need to invest, the VC players will eventually start picking up valuable projects, and it’s our job to provide the market with such projects.

Yaroslav Shakula is the CEO of YARD Hub, a venture studio focused on Web3/NFT/P&E projects. He has been involved in award-winning Web3 projects as an investor and advisor. Yaroslav is passionate about DAOs, community-backed projects, and gaming industry disruption through blockchain.

Yaroslav's professional background includes affiliate marketing, AI, project management, and business development as a product owner and managing partner. Early in his career, he participated in global campaigns for brands like Jaguar and Shell. Yaroslav is a regular speaker and moderator at conferences like AIBC World, CGC, and Hyper Games Conference. Yaroslav is a Stanford GSB alumni.

With the rising number of decentralized blockchain projects, we talked with Yaroslav Shakula, CEO & Founder of YARD Hub, one of the rising companies in the space to get a closer view of what is happening in the market today. YARD Hub is a Dubai-headquartered venture studio focusing on Web 3, non-fungible token (NFT) and Play-and-Earn startups and other blockchain entrepreneurial ideas.

The company encompasses the venture capital field having deployed a Special Ops team to tackle the trickiest challenges and help the projects find their product-market fit. It offers blockchain startups a wide range of services including venture building, startup building, incubation, entrepreneurship, fundraising, funding, and venture capital

Hello Yaroslav, thanks for joining us. Could we start off by briefly explaining to our readers what YARD Hub is all about and the journey your team has taken till now?

YARD Hub is a Web3/NFT/P2E venture studio based in Dubai as a DIFC Innovation Hub resident. YARD Hub incubates projects from idea to initial fundraising and company setup, providing founders with turnkey product management, tech, marketing and business development support.

YARD Hub core team members are frequent participants and speakers at blockchain, gaming and startup-related events.Right now we are working on a set of portfolio projects which will hopefully contribute greatly to the Web3 future.

Some of our audience may be unfamiliar with the role of venture studios in the Web 3/ NFT/ P2E space. Kindly explain the role of these projects and how sustainable the model is in building a startup. Do you see venture studios becoming the future of Web 3, replacing the VCs?

Let’s define venture studios for a start. These are organizations fully dedicated to systematically creating new ventures from scratch. As such, venture studios most definitely won’t replace VCs as they have evolved to complement the VC model and strengthen it rather than disrupt or replace it. Venture studio increases the chances of successfully turning ideas into ventures and helps eliminate mistakes that founders make during the early stages while also handling the burden of back office processes along with HR and legal services. For VCs, venture studios are a source of high-quality projects they can invest in.

Venture studios will cater to the growth and quality of the Web3 industry, which is still young and lacks experienced founders and well-tested frameworks. Venture studios help tackle the problems that any startup experiences and Web3 is no exception here.

YARD Hub currently uses its funds to fund its operations and provide seed funding to the projects, Briefly break down some of the top startups that are supported by YARD Hub’s venture studio and the value they provide to their respective ecosystem.

Yes, thank you. Over the course of our lifespan, we have helped several blockchain startups begin their journey to offer their users the optimal product-market fit and grow into successful businesses. Some of the companies we are working with include:

​​DeepMine is a Play-and-Earn social economy strategy. Its sophisticated and well-balanced economic system creates an immersive experience and sustainable long-term ROI. The Beta version of DeepMine will be released in the upcoming fall weeks.

The company is a two-time winner of the AIBC GameFi Awards in 2022, giving users a new play-and-earn model rather than the conventional play-to-earn games. It also provides a dystopian game atmosphere that captures the excitement of the gamers, making it fun while earning at the same time.

Secondly, Petobots is the cross-chain NFT collection with simple yet entertaining PVP games integrated into the DeepMine metaverse.

The third startup we are working with is Cryptoalma, a learn-to-earn platform where users earn crypto rewards while learning Web3 skills. We want to revolutionize the studying paradigm of web2 and simplify access to the in-demand educational resources about Web3.

Fourthly, BeNFT is a platform that provides NFT-based turnkey business solutions. The product is aimed at entrepreneurs looking for quick ways to launch a Web3-based business.

CarBar is a platform that provides rights to rent luxury cars in Dubai as NFTs [built on BeNFT platform].

Also, NCWallet is a modular crypto wallet customizable for any business needs.

As seen, YARD Hub’s portfolio of startups is well diversified across P2E games such as DeepMine, NFT projects (BeNFT) and other Web 3 companies. What are some of the benefits and challenges you face having such a broad spectrum of startups on your portfolio instead of focusing on just one, let’s say NFT startup alone?

The venture studio model allows founding and running different projects in various domains instead of being focused on a particular project/industry. Our business implies crafting a framework for the iterative creation of businesses and providing founders with the right resources, investments and connections.

Many classic venture studios are domain-agnostic as they work on projects from very different industries, and we preach the same approach. However, our global focus is Web3 and when we add new projects to our portfolio, we make sure they are aligned in the sense that they all are mutually beneficial. This is the way they contribute to the YARD Hub ecosystem. Projects within a Hub can be clients to each other: for example, when we launch a new game, we can test it via one of our other projects providing users’ feedback.

Blockchain gaming and NFTs were undoubtedly the fastest growing sectors in Web3 during 2021 and part of this year. However, many projects are failing with users complaining of poor graphics, excess focus on P2E rather than fun, and lack of multichain connectivity as the biggest reasons to abandon these games. What is your view on this and how can game developers boost the adoption of blockchain games in the future?

Yes, blockchain gaming is one of the fastest developing industries. I'm not talking about the number of players or the state of technology or investment volumes (they do increase, though, and we see more and more multi-million deals). My point is in how this industry is evolving in terms of approach towards gameplay and community building, towards blockchain and integration into the gaming process. Play-to-earn has already evolved into play-and-earn and new paradigms keep arising.

We will definitely see more games, maybe even AAA-rated titles emerging in the blockchain gaming market. Traditional game publishers are already looking into ways to integrate blockchain into their processes. We see how this industry evolves and matures: from simple clicker games (basically gamified DeFi mechanisms like staking) to sophisticated P&E strategies with elaborate lore and engaging gameplay. It’s also important to understand how blockchain can actually improve the game instead of making it unnecessarily complex.

The question I'd ask before rating any blockchain game is this: if we remove blockchain from it, will it be still interesting to play, will it still engage gamers and/or incentivise them to pay for the opportunity to play this game? If the game is engaging and interesting by itself, but you’re adding some extra economy layer for an opportunity to earn money for in-gaming skills or for the time spent completing challenges, then it’s probably a good blockchain game.

Could mergers and acquisitions be the key that unlocks the scaling and expansion of Web 3, NFT and P2E games across the globe?

Many mergers and acquisitions are already happening. We see companies from the traditional sector acquiring blockchain companies and vice versa. This is how new ventures are created and I believe this is something super important for the whole industry. For example, our venture studio examines a few potential co-venture projects with companies outside of the blockchain industry. They have nothing to do with Web3, but they are exploring this sector and it may well end up in us creating some joint ventures or in them investing in our studio.

I believe this mutual M&A trend will only keep gaining momentum in the upcoming years. Of course, a lot will depend on the macroeconomic situation and on geopolitics, because they do have a huge impact on investment strategies. But overall, I believe this is something that will open new opportunities because when a huge company from a traditional sector acquires a blockchain startup, it incorporates its technologies into its business process, but at the same time, it already has an established database of clients and access to different markets.

Therefore, this huge company can open the door to blockchain technology within this established industry. In other words, companies from traditional sectors can prompt mass adoption of the newest technologies via Web3 startup acquisitions.

How is YARD Hub pushing its startups to grow despite the current bear market?

Instead of pushing startups to grow, we’re focusing on building high-quality products, testing hypotheses and validating ideas. Also, we’re developing customer relationships and making connections. I would say we're getting our portfolio companies ready for the new crypto spring whenever it comes. It doesn't mean that we are waiting for the bull run in the short term, but our current focus is on building and exploring potential opportunities. We think that now it's not the right time to over-invest in growth, especially when it comes to emerging technologies such as Web3. Bear market is a great opportunity to explore and build — that’s what we are doing right now.

Finally, could you give our readers an outlook on the Web 3 ecosystem (NFTs, P2Es) venture space in the coming year?

As I've already said, a lot will depend on the macroeconomic situation. Venture companies and private equity funds are sitting on a huge amount of cash. Their business effectively is to invest, so they can't just sit out and wait forever. If they don't invest, they will probably have problems with raising more cash in the future.

Despite the bear market, we see new mergers and acquisitions, and the flow of investment in Web3 companies is relatively steady. We do a weekly overview of all those deals on our LinkedIn. I believe this market tends to double or quadruple every year, but the overall macroeconomics conditions should be better because Web3 is still a highly risky path. That is why during turbulent times like those we are in right now, capital tends to stay on the safe side. But as they need to invest, the VC players will eventually start picking up valuable projects, and it’s our job to provide the market with such projects.

Yaroslav Shakula is the CEO of YARD Hub, a venture studio focused on Web3/NFT/P&E projects. He has been involved in award-winning Web3 projects as an investor and advisor. Yaroslav is passionate about DAOs, community-backed projects, and gaming industry disruption through blockchain.

Yaroslav's professional background includes affiliate marketing, AI, project management, and business development as a product owner and managing partner. Early in his career, he participated in global campaigns for brands like Jaguar and Shell. Yaroslav is a regular speaker and moderator at conferences like AIBC World, CGC, and Hyper Games Conference. Yaroslav is a Stanford GSB alumni.