NFT Craze Brings Opportunity For Big Brands & Local Startups Alike

Following a round of seed investment late last year, Atlanta-based GigLabs has been busy helping more household name brands enter the growing NFT space.

The most recent is the Atlanta Hawks, which announced this week the launch of a “Harry The Hawk” NFT collection. 

While 40 hand-drawn NFTs of the beloved Hawks’ mascot will be available, the team’s director of innovation Jen Choi sees this as a “new fan engagement lever.”

“We’ve all seen NFTs as one of the hottest trends in technology in the brand space,” Choi told Hypepotamus. “This is for fans who love to engage with the Hawks. It isn’t necessarily about using these NFTs as an investment vehicle, but rather as a fun Hawks collectible. 

On top of the digital ownership of the artwork, some of the NFTs will unlock different swag items or exclusive in-person experiences. The collection will be up for auction the week of March 14. 

For GigLabs co-founder Jon Parise, sport is a natural fit for the NFT space. “Sports fans are kind of used to collecting and trading things like baseball cards. But it’s not just about collecting a Mickey Mantle rookie card, they also save mementos, ticket stubs, and programs from events. People might not be really sure what [NFTs] are all about…but when it’s something your favorite team is offering, it is easier to understand.” 

The Hawks join a growing list of major Georgia organizations, like UGA football and CNN, leveraging GigLabs’ platform.

NFTs might be the latest blockchain-related trending topic, but they have already created a tangible impact on traditional arts verticals. Recent data shows that the NFT art market hit $41 billion in 2021 and could soon eclipse the enter fine art market.

The partnership between the Hawks and GigLabs highlights the growing Atlanta NFT and Web3 community. In the first two months of 2022, events like NFTATLATL.NFT, and Meetup groups like Babylon Web3 brought together upwards of 80-200 people each night for discussions about the space. 

Thanks to the Braves and the Bulldogs, there is no doubt momentum around the intersection of sports and NFTs. But for Jeremiah Long, community manager at, Atlanta’s art scene could help make the city a capital for NFT creation and talent moving forward. 

“There is something special happening in Atlanta’s creative Web3 community. Because of Atlanta’s unique mix of film, music, tech, and art culture, I see Atlanta taking a leadership role in the NFT Community. Filmmakers will use NFTs to fund their features, legendary Atlanta music artists are launching NFT based music to protect and share their IP with fans, Atlanta Black Tech along with Georgia Tech and Atlanta Tech Village are incubating the next innovations, and finally the art of Atlanta. Artists in Atlanta tell stories great and small and we will see previously unknown Black and Brown artists emerge from Atlanta’s NFT Art scene,” Long said.

That local NFT community, in general, has two big problems to tackle as NFTs gain wider traction: how to make NFTs environmentally sustainable and how to keep scammers out of the Web3 space. “It is also important for consumers to go slowly and carefully review each decision in Web3, because as we say, “there are no refunds on the blockchain,” added Long. 

Local startups and leaders working on those problems could help further cement Atlanta’s role in this emerging technology down the road.