by Eliot Wilson
Lockdown was a tough time for private members’ clubs. After all, if your business model is posited on people meeting face-to-face in a physical location, social distancing is social death. Some managed to adapt: the Ivy Club offered online events for members, while the Ned dispatched cocktails to the homes of its denizens. Others folded altogether: the Hospital Club is still mourned.
In adversity, however, there are always opportunities. In steps Adriano Karok, a Berlin-based entrepreneur with a track record in hospitality and events. He is one of the co-founders of Coin Club, a project which mixes the conviviality of clubland with the digital world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The proposition is simple but striking: by purchasing a Fat Cat NFT, you gain access to a physical members’ club in the heart of the City of London.
Coin Club, which will open in early next year, will be a heavyweight addition to clubland. Based in a former bank building, it will consist of five floors including a roof terrace with views over the Square Mile, gallery space exhibiting both analogue and digital art and a basement nightclub with a roster of big-name DJs. There will also be fine dining in the Coin Restaurant, which will offer cordon bleu Japanese cuisine.
It is the membership, however, which sets Coin Club apart. This will be accessed by ownership of a Fat Cat NFT, distinctive and light-hearted caricatures of cats in everything from sportswear to traditional pinstriped bankers’ garb. They have been created in co-operation with New York’s Spraykid and 2,222 will be released in total, through the Ethereum blockchain. This gives Coin Club members a personal and unique asset, unlike straightforward membership fees, and Karok and his co-founders hope that this will provide them with a distinctive offering.
Even after the Darwinian natural selection of the pandemic lockdown, clubland is a crowded market. Coin Club will have to fight hard for space to breathe. Karok describes the atmosphere he hopes to create as “colourful, freaky and cool”, and there is certainly a substantial audience to be tapped in the crypto community. In addition to the physical space of the London location, Coin Club will offer a 24-hour concierge service through an app. Following in the footsteps of businesses like Quintessentially, this will allow members to find anything from concert tickets to fine wines.
All of this will not come cheap. The floor price for a Fat Cat NFT is £15,000, which reflects the demographic which Coin Club unashamedly targets: Karok wants ultra-high net worth individuals, crypto chieftains who will spend big for the right ambience and experience. That made London the obvious choice for his debut: Berlin and Prague were considered but it was London’s concentration of wealth and financial services, as well as the cultural ecosystem of the “global city”, which won the day.
Expansion is planned, however. Paris is on the agenda for late 2023, after which New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo are all possible targets. In addition, Fat Cat owners can access a digital version of Coin Club in the metaverse, through the Sandbox gaming platform.
Karok and his partners are ticking a lot of trending boxes. Crypto, NFTs, the metaverse – all of these are hot topics, and Coin Club’s ambition cannot be faulted. Despite the economic straitening after Covid-19, a strong market exists for luxury goods and services, and exclusivity and quality will appeal if they are presented properly. It is easy to imagine Coin Club catching the imagination of young, wealthy, iconoclastic entrepreneurs in the crypto space who want to party and network in stylish surroundings.
Coin Club is an eye-catching offering. Adriano Karok, steeped in both events and financial services and with a broad, easy smile, makes success sound like the simplest thing in the world. If confidence were all it required, he and his partners would be assured of the palms of glory. The real test, however, will come early next year, when promises must be turned into reality and the first location opens its doors. It will certainly be a lively addition to the social and cultural world of London… let’s see if it has staying power.
Written by Eliot Wilson , co-founder of Pivot Point Group.