NFT Labs
8 min readDec 30, 2021


NFT Labs Talk: Where Pharma and Web3 Meet: Conversation with the Lead Author of ERC-721 Standard William Entriken — The Zooming In

The Zooming In: the Degen Story of the Initiation for ERC-721 Standard Writing and its applying to Pharma

NFT Labs: How did it come up with the non-fungible token standard idea?

WThis is actually from my neighbor his name is Rob Leshner and he started compound finance. He’s also from the Philadelphia area, and I know him from high school and growing up for years. He says, well let’s move to California. I want to start this thing with you old compact we’re going to trade like whatever he wants to be, co-founder or whatever on compound. Compound finance is a way that you can buy and sell different tokens on Ethereum. I said, no no, I don’t want to do that. I don’t know California. I like Philadelphia just fine and I don’t want to be involved in this money laundering or Ethereum token BS coin thing. yeah, and I said no no no it’s different. He keeps calling me, come on man, come on come to California, where it’s going to be great. So he goes off, and he starts compound finance with his own. He calls me, well if you’re not going to work with me on compound finance then at least find something else. You gotta look at Ethereum, this is 2017. I said, I don’t know. Ethereum is a bunch of money laundering days ago and they have all this money and they don’t know what to do with it. This is my impression of Ethereum and all of this blockchain years ago. And then I saw cryptokitties. This is not money laundering. What’s going on here is actually people are caring about the artwork of the cats. It’s just a totally different model. And I saw the standardization was stuck. And I looked at it, I know exactly where this is going to go for 10 years.

Then I asked other people, where do you think this is going? They said, Cryptocats and Cryptodogs, I said no, you don’t see the picture here and I ask you why are you interested in it? He said we’re going to make a lot of money by selling it. I said no guys, you are missing the picture and so people didn’t get it. Where we’re going is we’re going to change the world. We’re going to change the world of commerce with NFT. This is why I definitely want to be involved. This is a very long term plan. We’re going to change a lot of things here, so I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’ll sweep the floors? I’ll be the CEO like whatever you need me. I’m going to work very hard, because this is going to be something big. So I got involved with the standard that was the beginning.

Cryptokitties started the Cryptokitties, but they also started the standard. The cats just blew up and they kind of just left the standard there. Other people involved had competing standards. And so there are actually 4 or 5 NFT standards at the time. Well, this is a disaster. We need one standard and we need everybody to agree together. And this is a difficult thing to do politically. Programmers don’t like to agree on things. This is something I can do. I can definitely get everybody to agree on one standard unanimously and pass it. So that a million people can use it ’cause that’s something I’m good at it from open source in the background. That’s when I first heard about Ethereum and NFT was my first project.

NFT Labs: How did you start the ERC-721 Standard? What’s NFT meant to you?

So when you open the ERC-721 at the top. We have some of the use cases and they’re very broad like things, houses and loans. Just various classes of name value. You can read the GitHub discussion. It’s public of all the different ideas we thought about. But I’ll give you 2 big ones that I was studying as I was working on it.

I started at the end of 2017, beginning January 20:18 on Thursday. It was published in June 2018. In the meantime, I went to a couple of pretty big events to learn related use cases in industries. One of them is the licensing Expo. This is an event in Las Vegas, where we got to see Toy Story 4 years before it came out. This is they have the movie right. Alright, I’ve got you know Buzz Lightyear and Woody so they got all the characters in there and they’re going to be new characters in Toy Story 4. They’re coming out, so Disney sit there and they want to show you the movie. So that you can license the characters for your T-shirts and lunchboxes. There’s a whole industry of this not just the movie, not just the theater and not just Disney. All the Pokémon is there and so as the DC Comic. There are Oreo cookies and all different things with good brands. License them. And so stay in this industry because there’s Oreo cookie and then there’s an agent for Oreo and then there’s a broker in between them and then you go there with your agent and then you license the Oreo Cookies and then you get the Oreo cookies on your socks. So this year, a hot thing for the holiday. Did you buy socks with like cookies on them or something like these are? If you go on Amazon or wherever you can buy the cookies stocks. Whatever these are the licensing deals. So when you buy socks with sprinkles on them and they are officially licensed.

So I was studying this and I said, OK, These guys have a problem here, there’s a lot of problems in this industry. How do we make them just a little bit better with technology that I kept that in mind.

NFT Labs: What’s are other fields can NFT apply to?

I was studying Pharma industry, so Pharmaceuticals is a very complicated supply chain. You’ve got active pharmaceutical ingredients very often from China, moving around China into Germany, exported to South America for processing and then imported back to Germany or to the US. That’s a very simple supply chain. That’s the simplest and it gets much more complicated than that. During my time working on 721, It’s not a lot of words. Here are you really thinking about these use cases. Yes, we’re definitely thinking about this, so how do we support licensing. The Real World of licensing is not just our imagination. The pharmaceutical supply chain industry is a very complicated industry. Also, there were some changes coming because of Obamacare. They actually need to add serial numbers in the United States. So this is a big change that they’re still working on over the next few years went up until 2024.

So, how do these 2 big use cases get supported by this new technology? So my thought is always when you’re making new technology, you need to fix a problem. You can’t just come up with stupid ideas that nobody wants to use. You need to actually talk to people in industry that we’re doing real things and solve their problems and that’s how you change the world.

This industry is very slow and somehow they’ve made these major changes in the past couple of years to adopt NFT.

NFT Labs: Only Oreo issued NFT 4 years after you attended the Expo. It's still not very fast for those traditional brands to get into NFT.

So This is why I have the 10-year plan. So artwork is easy. Cryptokitties is easy to get onto NFT. It’s easy to copy cryptokitties digital artwork and is easy to make NFTs, so these are the first use cases. Anything like Cryptokitties is going to come first aims NFT games. That’s going to be 2018, 2019. Artist still have to learn about NFT. I’m still teaching artists at NFT that’s 2020, 2021. Soon will see new type fast. I mean, established artist that published for next 10 to 20 years. Now they’re going to start coming so I’m talking to these artists. How do they make their first NFT that’s going to be 2020, 2023.

But these other industries, like supply chain and Pharma. They take 5 to 10 years to do these things. They have brokers and agents and whatever, so this is a small use case for them to sell NFTS. But they already here. So you'll start seeing these coming more and more of these little ones. But there's other people that have licensing and they're not even at the Expo so there are years away. They have to come to the Expo. They have to get their brokers and agents and they have to sign these contracts. Somebody has to buy the contracts to create the NFTs so that's going to be a few years down and then long term.

We have enterprise applications like Pharma. Getting Pharma to adopt anything is a very long term project. I met one very Pharm's kind between Philadelphia and New Yorkers like most of the world's Pharma companies. So I went to visit them and I met one of the Pharma companies and the person there was in charge of serializing the drugs. It’s like literally stamping the number on drug. This team has about 50 people. Just the numbering. Drugs are made in Latin America, Mexico usually Germany. They made it for all over the world and just tracking the quantity of drugs that they have 50 people. So to have those 50 people adopt a new system based on NFT is a very long term project and they are interested and they're doing it.

NFT Labs: How can we license the drugs by NFT?

How do you do licensing with supply chain. You don’t, you’re tracking with supply chain. Yeah, so for supply chain tracking things is very difficult. So as I’m studying this. I ask people I said how long does it take you to find something in your network. There’s people in the audience and they said how long does the track and trace take if I need to find one active ingredient? How would find it? How long will it take, like 2 weeks? And so how did it? Why does it take you 2 weeks? I have to figure out which Ledger. Which company is it on? The driver might be asleep. They have different systems, different languages and different countries in different time zones. Yeah, it’s very complicated.

To be continued, we will zoom out to see how William think of NFT influence to the history next time.

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