Meet El Bonuan, the visionary CEO of XOVOX Labs, a leading game development studio in the Philippines.
Focused on creating unique and authentic gaming experiences, El is dedicated to driving job growth and innovation in the metaverse.
💼 What were you doing before Web3?
Oh boy, here we go – I started as a multimedia artist right after graduating from High School. I take commissions to get me by. It is when I didn’t really want to do anything, all while taking mechanical engineering in college.
Then I shifted to interior design. I did some rendering work, art commissions, freelance comic ghost work, and then eventually got into corporate as a graphic designer.
Once I finally graduated from UST, I did some freelance interior design projects. I got into the sales department for a call center agency, and then tried my hand at starting a small business online.
Some were failed ventures, but all of them were learning experiences which imbued me with the skills that I am still using today.
🤔 How did you get into Web3?
Funny enough, I learned about crypto from a bit in the sitcom “Big Bang Theory” back in 2017. Back then, I was a broke college student suffering from depression, so I didn’t put much thought into it.
I didn’t have much money and time to invest anyway, I thought. Flash forward to 2020, a wiser, less broke, covid version of myself figured I should be investing what little I had to more fruitful things rather than my vices, so I revisited cryptocurrency.
I wasn’t active on social media, so I didn’t really know anyone locally who are trading, so I just stuck to Reddit. Then I was in my thesis year, I had to focus on my job and in uni, so I stopped for a while.
In the year 2021, I caught wind of a community in Cabanatuan who are playing games to earn a living. That blew my mind and that game was Axie Infinity.
After graduating Uni, I dove at the rabbit hole that is play-to-earn and then immersed myself in the community of hustlers looking for the next gem. Big mistake. I got scammed, rugged, and bled time and time again (which is why I swore off on anything related to the BSC Network) and then I hit rock-bottom.
Broke, unemployed, and reeling from medication, I found the metaverse platform – The Sandbox, just days before Mark Zuckerberg announced the Facebook to Meta rebrand.
That moment right there, changed my life, “I could practice being an interior designer, not leave the house for sweaty site visits, go as wild as I can with my designs for games, AND I get paid three to five times my previous salary?!” Dude, I was hooked. I’ve been a metaverse advocate ever since.
🚀 What was your first crypto or NFT project?
It was probably an obscure token that I thought sounded nice, but let’s not talk about things that don’t hold value anymore.
I don’t really remember the first one, but what really got me to stay was this game project called “Project: Interlude” (Spoiler: It’s practically dead now). It’s a scavenger hunt protocol across the internet. And I won first place during their first hunt ever.
I got 100,000 ISH Tokens for it, and when they went public, it got to a point where the price per ISH was above 2 pesos. My mouth was foaming by then. It was the first time I’m seeing those kinds of numbers change so fast.
I recall the first day of it going public, how rapid the zeroes were axed approaching the 1 peso mark, and then I took the advice of what I’m always hearing in the space, to take profit, halved my holdings at the 1 peso point.
Then the following days, watched it go to 2 pesos approaching 3. That was the first time I felt so bled through, “I could have had almost 300k had I not TP’ed!” I thought excruciatingly.
I watched the charts expecting it to rise beyond 3 pesos, hoping for the “This time, I won’t miss out on the gainz!” moment – big mistake.
It went below 1 peso in just a day after that initial hype. “Oh shoot! I’ll wait for it to pump again so I can make a profit!” – bigger mistake.
It just spiraled to its death since then. I did take what little is left in it eventually to reinvest into Axie, but that’s another story for a “Big mistake moment”. It was a lesson I learnt the hard way, but alas, it was free money.
🧠 How would you explain what you do to someone outside of Web3?
“I play and create minecraft-like games with my friends for magic internet money.” Kidding aside, that’s the simplest way I can think of to describe how I make a living in web 3 to someone who’s not familiar with the Metaverse.
Long of it of course is that I founded a studio that develops and creates metaverse games, experiences, and worlds for different brands, projects, and IPs with friends from my previous endeavors in web 2 and web 3.
A mouthful, I know, but that’s pretty much what XOVOX Labs is, we also aim to educate, on-board, and build people for the open Metaverse, starting with The Sandbox ecosystem.
💡 Which creator or thought leader do you enjoy learning from?
As an artist? The folks from Cryptoart PH like Jopet Arias, Andre Baldovino, Angelica So, Lei Melendres, and Bjorn Calleja to name a few, have been an inspiration for my oft hibernating art dream.
In regards to learning business, there’s Ismael Jerusalem from Ownly who has imparted so much to me, and my brothers in Bayani Chain – Nikko Que, Gelo Wong, Paul Soliman, Bhenjie Florentino, Alex Go, Raph Sevilla, Vandy Pesarillo, and David Singson.
They have been an impactful presence in believing in our vision for XOVOX Labs. Finally in life, I find that people like Kenneth Surillo, Belle Osma, Harleen Cruz, Kata Okado, Jam Valmorida, Miccolo Solis, Jenny Mendizabal, Jay Castillo, Mark Bago, Ella Pelarion, Mark Callos, Ellysa Bucasas, Patty Tiu, and Ariel Macapinig have taught me that regardless of age we should all be life-long learners. (You can tell by my long list that I live and breathe Web 3/Metaverse, so look them up, all wonderful people!)
🥳 What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Man, it has to be the whole stretch of things I’ve accomplished with my team for the Metaverse! From the time that, I, along with my co-founders of Tom Tom Entertainment, Rixfar and Valefor, led our team to become part of The Sandbox’s Game Maker Fund in Turkey back in 2021.
All the way to my formation of XOVOX Labs with my friends, and eventually exploring partnerships with Bayani Chain, Brands, and Institutions this 2023! It has been a really great year despite the market conditions.
📈 What tech or crypto trend are you watching this year?
You don’t have to ask – it’s always gonna be the Metaverse for me. Technologies like XR, AI, and Simulations are just toppings to the already sweet treat that is the Metaverse.
🤝 What advice would you give someone starting out in web3?
“Know your fundamentals. Don’t trust; verify. Just keep showing up.” Things I heard in my time in the space, and words to live by. Oh, and always be grateful.
🎤 If you could do a TEDtalk on any topic, what would it be?
“May We All Prosper.” My mantra, a derivative of WAGMI, and my heartfelt wish for all my friends and family.
I’ll be the first to advocate for the people I believe in, and in this ecosystem of gratitude, I truly hope that we all prosper.
We might not make it to the standards we’ve set for ourselves, but in prosperity we will find peace, and hopefully, joy. Sounds like a short and sweet TED talk, no?
🚨 What is the one thing you would bring if you were stuck on a deserted island?
A multi-tool. ChatGPT agrees with me on this.