I couldn’t have asked for a better final guest of 2021 for my future-minded podcast than Hrish Lotlikar, co-founder and CEO of SuperWorld, who shares my optimism and belief that the metaverse can be leveraged to create a better world “IRL” for us all. Founded in 2017, this digital world allows users to buy, sell, collect, and curate over 64 billion unique plots of virtual land, which are mapped over the entire surface of the globe. Prior to SuperWorld, Rish co-founded Rogue Initiative Studios, a Hollywood film, TV, gaming, and immersive entertainment studio. He was also the founding managing partner of the early-stage VC fund Eastlabs, and working on an upcoming project with Barbados to make it the first sovereign nation with an embassy in the metaverse.
A self-proclaimed “global nomad,” Hrish’s diverse career path has allowed him to draw on his many strengths to envision a borderless, virtual future we all can have a stake in creating. In our conversation, he broke down SuperWorld into a three-part analogy, which elucidates how a digital world can overlap with physical reality to enhance and empower everyday people. First, the platform adds digital information to the real world, which Rish likens to Pokemon GO. That mobile game’s massive success several years ago showed the potential for AR to enhance and complement people’s day-to-day lives, and was instrumental in Rish’s vision. Similarly, SuperWorld allows people to “personalise” the real world through AR, leaving messages or interactive features at one’s favourite location, for example.
Second, on the data side, Hrish used Foursquare as an analogy for data, focusing on data integrity and fair compensation, where users earn crypto for their data monetisation, with a focus on building a better world off the platform– he described initiatives, such as if one buys virtual land in SuperWorld world, they’ll plant a tree in the real world, and how they’ve partnered with the UN and UNESCO to help rebuild Beirut. This also corresponds to his work with Barbados, where they are seeking to improve real people’s daily lives by giving them access to the virtual world of the metaverse.
For the final third part of his analogy, Hrish invoked Monopoly– only in SuperWorld, the playing space is expanded to the entire planet, dividing the surface of the Earth into 64 billion NFTs, each a virtual block that covers a city block of land. In SuperWorld, when you buy a plot of virtual land that corresponds to anywhere on Earth, you get a share of any kind of monetisation that happens there, from digital commerce to data analytics to gaming or advertising– much like in Monopoly, where a player needs to pay up when they land on your property. All blocks are for sale on the platform initially for .1 ETH, but once you’re its owner, you can reprice the property to what you feel it’s worth. In his vision, Hrish sees SuperWorld as “enabling anyone to create, discover, and monitor anything anywhere.”
In Hrish’s opinion, tech will start taking over our lives “in a positive way,” allowing the doldrums of regular jobs to be replaced by machine learning and freeing people up to follow their passions. SuperWorld encourages such creativity, allowing SuperCitizens to create content such as NFTs from their phones. He described how we could “paint the world” with digital content this way, sharing our passion and purpose through AR with others, whether that be sharing your art or even putting audio from your podcast on the best jogging trails in your city. Whilst gamers are familiar with the idea of “play to earn,” Hrish sees Web 3 as bringing this ability to control or monetise our lives to a broader public, allowing people to build a livelihood by pursuing their passions.
We also discussed Hrish’s work with Rogue Initiative Studios, which allows a more holistic and intentional approach to entertainment. With an eye on a more immersive, interconnected future, the studio is working to create globally marketable material across platforms, building original content creation from the ground up. For example, he envisions future content as an internationally-successful feature film and video game simultaneously realised– rather than starting with one and then developing the other as an afterthought.
While Hrish shared my futurist optimism for all the potential of the metaverse, I appreciated how he always stayed grounded in the real world. His vision for the metaverse is not one of escape, but of one that complements and enhances the very real world we are still all living in. From his collaborative work with the UN to his belief in NFTs with “real world utility,” Hrish was filled with interesting insights into where a fantastical AR and VR future might take us within our brick-and-mortar lives.
To hear more of our conversation, you can listen to the podcast here.