Elroy Cheo, co-founder, ARC
Photo: Athirah Annissa

The first thing Elroy Cheo looks at on his cellphone in the mornings is not Instagram or Facebook. The Web3 enthusiast has long abandoned social media platforms, instead seeking out the latest updates on this brave new digital world.

“I go to crypto Twitter, private Telegram groups, Discord and Reddit because I want to stay on top of whatever is happening in this space,” says Cheo, who first became involved in Web3 in 2015 when he worked on a project that used blockchain ledgers to solve a music copyright licensing problem.

Since then, Cheo, whose family is behind edible oil business Mewah International, has been digging deeper into the crypto and blockchain realms, investing in projects and developing connections and networks.

This year, in partnership with good friend and fellow entrepreneur Kiat Lim, the son of local billionaire Peter Lim, the duo launched ARC. The region’s first private digital community focuses on collaborations among innovators, creatives and thought leaders.

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Creating an NFT collection and community that will become a cultural juggernaut in Asia

As the architect of the community, Cheo’s role is to lead the design of the ARC experience from its community interactions and content to its user interface and technology backbone.

One of their key goals is to co-create an NFT collection and community that will become a cultural juggernaut in Asia — similar to how Cryptopunks or Bored Ape Yacht Club dominate the Western digital art landscape.

“We know there is a gap in the market in Asia where Asians are among the biggest token and NFT holders in the world, but there isn’t a common shared experience. All the good events are being held in the Western hemisphere while we are sleeping,” he observes. “When we ask ourselves why, the reason is very clear: there are not enough good projects in Asia. ARC wants to solve this.”

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Building a strong Asia-centric network of the brightest and most driven minds in Web3

Elroy Cheo, co-founder, ARC
Elroy Cheo, co-founder, ARC. (Photo: Athirah Annissa)

Though ARC is still in the process of developing its allow list in preparation for the mint of its membership, it already has an active Discord channel with hundreds of participants. ARC has also announced several co-creation partnerships with Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Zouk Group and multi-Grammy winning director Joseph Kahn.

As proof of membership, the ARC NFT will unlock access to the ARC app, which functions as a platform to facilitate connections and collaborations. To become a full-fledged member, individuals must fill out an application, just as they would for membership in any other private club. After approval, members will be able to mint the ARC NFT.

As Cheo emphasises, the club is not about admitting inner circle “elites”, but building a strong Asia-centric network of the brightest and most driven minds in Web3, regardless of their wealth or social status.

It is for this reason that Cheo says the curation process is meant to weed out those who are not truly committed to the principles of collaboration and partnership. Two questions he pays particular attention to are “What can ARC do for you?” and “What can you do for ARC?”

“This is a new world and instead of sucking up all value for yourself, ARC is about collaboration and being community-and contribution-minded as a way to create value for others as well,” he explains.

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Pop star JJ Lin is a co-founder

In July, singer JJ Lin, who has also been dabbling in NFT communities for some time, joined the duo as a co-founder. “His mandate is that we have to nurture and empower people, which is where our values align,” says Cheo.

Real-life interactions are also in the works for members who crave it. Membership comes with “utility” such as access to clubhouses, including one that is currently under construction in Singapore, and partnerships with other clubs or lifestyle brands.

He explains, “We are a reimagination of a private members club, but in a more online, scalable manner. We are focused on acquiring a digital community with an aligned belief and purpose before we venture off into physical assets or other physical locations in the real world.”

Related: What Audrey Lim learned from dabbling in Web 3.0