NFT Creators: Good Cactus Frens

The NFT project, Good Cactus Frens, is coming up on the horizon. Launching in summer 2022, the project aims to mint 771 which will come with certain utilities, including mental health support for the holder. However, the primary goal of the project is to raise funds for charitable trust, Charity Water. Charity Water is a non-profit organisation that helps provide clean water to communities throughout the world.

To date, Charity Water has established 91,414 water projects, serving over 14 million people in 29 countries. Established by John Shevchenko Mongeau and Mahendra Canaguy, Good Cactus Frens hope to extend that reach through the use of community funding via an NFT collection. The collection will showcase a cactus, the oddly humanoid plant which of course stores water. The cacti will come with many traits based on randomisation.

We sat down with John, Mahendra, and designer Julia Sidlovska to discuss the project, the scope of fundraising and the future of NFTs

Charity Water supports communities across the world; each dot is a new source of clean water.

GMW3 – The NFT ecosystem currently suffers a lot of negativity, is it a daunting place to launch a new project?

JOHN – The first thing you said is, “there’s a lot of negativity associated” or there’s a little too much financial gain. “I want to flip this” to make money is enticing and you become very drawn into it. Some people think “oh my god, this is going to change my life”, but it’s kind of empty and you quickly see that.

We thought there should be something good that comes out of this, what about some actual semi-tangible utility and value? Let’s prove to the world that you could do good stuff with NFTs.

MAHENDRA – We thought, there’s so much potential and so many options; NFTs generate so much money that I think it’s a bit unfair to keep everything for ourselves and when we can donate. 

GMW3 – Do you feel that NFTs with utility have an opportunity to teach people they can be more than a PFP?

JULIA – I believe NFTs are a fun and innovative way to solve real-life problems. For example, artists would have struggled to sell their art in real life, as it’d be hard to get noticed. Whereas with the current technology and NFTs, it’s become a lot easier and it definitely gave art a whole breath of fresh air. 

As with GCF, we are solving even bigger issues, which is the lack of clean water, plus we bring mental health awareness. Our NFTs would not just be something that saves you time donating to charity – our collectors will get a lovely cactus as a way of saying thank you and as a memory as well. So for this project, NFTs serve as an element that will hopefully get more people to do something good for others and get something good for themselves in return like, one on one mental health counselling.

JOHN – I think the fact that we are going to create a real life impact and give people direct access to clean water is going be a big part of the educational bond. Showing that if you own a Good Cactus Fren you’ll get access to free one on one mental health support, too. It’s to show that this is more than an image, but it’s also a kind of passive key to unlock so many benefits. 

JULIA – I think NFTs will be split into two camps. One is the utility and material value NFTs and the other is art. In that sense they will remain simple pictures, although saying the latter would probably be offensive for the artist, haha.

GMW3 – Can you tell our readers how you came to choose Charity Water as the project receiving support from your community?

JOHN – Well, at first we thought about trees and replanting, but we quickly discovered the Woodies project. Then I realised that I have a bit of a connection at Charity Water, from some previous fund-raising. So, we got on a call with their blockchain team and the partnerships team. They were in full support right away. Our goal is to become an official partner over time.

In rough numbers, if we raise 100ETH from the mint, that’s around 12,500 people who will have clean water for 20 years.

GMW3 – Given the environmental impact of the Ethereum network, why did you choose to release GCF there, rather than on Solana or Tezos, for example? Was it due to the number of ETH users?

JOHN – Very, very good question. To be honest, at first, we were going to use Solana. In our minds, that was a no brainer, because of gas prices and the reduced environmental impact. But, the more we thought about it, you kind of alluded to it, it’s such a big market in the ETH world. Back in December, when we were planning this project we didn’t know that OpenSea would soon be signing more environmentally friendly networks.

MAHENDRA – I personally really like Solana, I buy a lot of NFTs from the Solana blockchain. And yeah, I’m pretty happy with those. But yeah, using ETH is great for the visibility of the project.

JOHN – We’re going to make sure that we knock down our NFT footprint. We’re looking at using Aerial as a solution to offset the whatever energy consumption there is with Good Cactus Frens, but you can only action that once you mint because you need the blockchain contract to identify transactions.

GMW3 – How did you settle on using the cactus as the star of your first project?

JOHN – we didn’t want to go with animals, as in, one that was not used yet. We thought about plants next and thought ‘oh, what about a cactus?’ Plus it also looks like it has a good human side.

MAHENDRA – Also cacti contain a lot of water and are often not using it. So that’s kind of nice. It’s a cute easter egg, like, a cactus has plenty of water it doesn’t need, so let’s give it out to others.

JOHN – And the cactus is actually perfect. We did some investigating and it’s a symbol of strength, resilience, community and motherhood. It felt fitting. Plus, when I worked with Charity Water previously, we saw footage of people carrying these huge jugs of water to their village, and it’s always mothers and little girls. So, the cactus checked several boxes.

GMW3 – Can you tell us a bit more about the designs and traits of the Cactus Frens?

JULIA – As for inspirations, GCF has references to various tv shows like breaking bad, or friends. We get the whole team to brainstorm on the traits so that we have a diverse variety of them. We definitely get inspired from other big projects as well. At the end of the day, we’re still a PFP project so have to match the standards.

We have an amazing artist onboard, who created this style that I think suits GCF and its mission perfectly. At this stage, we have almost all traits ready, but we’ll consult with our community to make sure we include all traits they want.

MAHENDRA – The Good Cactus Frens will be randomly generated based on the traits we’ve carefully selected, but we’re going to have some unique characters as well. We have maybe 10 or 15 that are going to be hand-drawn. These will be completely unique rather than having any traits or be randomly generated.

GMW3 – What does the future look like beyond Good Cactus Frens?

JOHN – Our goal is to have this be the first of many good oriented projects, social impact projects, charity oriented projects, and the vision is that we can maybe all go full time into this space.

MAHENDRA – The dream goal would be to build a studio, where we have the name and the brand. Then the idea would be to continue creating good social impact projects, because if this one works, why would we stop here?

GMW3 – Do you see your future community operating much like a DAO?

JOHN – We’re not coming out promising the world, we think ‘let’s keep this simple’, so that it’s digestible. And we will continue to build a team from our community –  at first, it was just four co-founders, but now I think we have five or six volunteers who came out of nowhere, they reached out on LinkedIn, Twitter because they love the project.

We want to work closely with the community; we will also have shark tanks for our Frens where they can come to us with suggestions like, ‘Hey, I have like an amazing idea for a charity’. It could be a charity or it might be that maybe the person wanted to create something new, for example, we saw a project where people created glass glasses with recycled plastic. Anything that has a good impact is welcome.

Good Cactus Frens launches 7/7/2022 at 1pm EST. The initial wave of 771 NFTs will be followed by a second wave which will collect 7,000 additional NFTs. Each Cactus Fren will directly benefit those who need an urgent link to clean water, as well as open up a mental health support network for the NFT holder. You can find the Good Cactus Frens on TWITTER, as well as DISCORD