Wildcards connects endangered animal conservations and donors through a fun and engaging platform, saving animals and habitat.

Photo of Denham Preen
2 5

Written by

Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Denham Ray Preen

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Switzerland

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

Southern Africa & Bolivia

Website or social media url(s)

https://wildcards.world | https://twitter.com/wildcards_world | https://www.facebook.com/wildcardscrypto

Date Started

April 2019

Project Stage

  • Start-up (first few activities have happened)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €10k - €50k

Organization Type

  • For-profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Four friends, that met while studying computer science at the University of Cape Town, passionate about innovative tech and making an impact in this world came together in Cape Town from all over to take part in a blockchain programming competition. Leveraging their knowledge in blockchain, social impact startups, finance and their passion for nature growing up in South Africa they spent the weekend building Wildcards a platform that leverages the blockchain to channel funds into the preservation of nature and endangered animal habitat. After 48 hours of nerding out and a short sleep on the floor in the back of the venue, the judges, including Vitalik Buterin, announced they had won with their innovative funding model.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

1. Global animal populations have declined by 60% on average in the last 50 years | 2. Every 4 seconds we loose 1 acre of endangered animal habitat. | 3. The donation process is detached & unrewarding. | 4. Donations are often once-off. | 5. Cross border donations can be costly. 31% of donators donate internationally.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Wildcards is a platform that connects conservation organizations to users through social and gamified giving. Wildcards allows users to become the guardian of an endangered animal, this endangered animal is represented on a blockchain as a digital asset which represents the real animal. Wildcards are "always for sale". This means that as soon as a user buys a wildcard they are immediately required to set a selling price. They're incentivized not to set the selling price too high as they pay a pro-rata percentage of their selling price in order to remain the guardian of the animal. This revolutionary model was theorized in a book called radical markets and marries a subscription model and a continuous auction. These funds go to the conservation that protects these animals and their habitats. This creates a recurring revenue model for these conservations. Users gain access to specific information on the animals they are the guardian of as well as a verifiable way to display their giving.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Wildcards is re-defining the donation model by changing giving from a responsibility approach to an entertainment approach. Wildcards uses an always for sale model based on a book called Radical Markets whereby we are creating patronage as an asset class. Nature is a public good and therefore needs different incentive mechanisms in order to best preserve it. Wildcards is implementing a model that gamifies the giving experience and introduces a recurring revenue model for conservations, moving away from a once-off donation model that is largely unrewarding. Wildcards is built on cutting edge technology creating socially verified giving using the ethereum blockchain, cutting edge programming languages such as ReasonML.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Wildcards is a platform that connects social givers (citizens) and conservations. We rely on the work of our verified conservation partners' efforts in land and animal preservation. We try engage citizens by making the giving experience more rewarding. Although there are still challenges in blockchain adoption, for users that are in the crypto community supporting these conservations is extremely simple and accessible across borders. At this point in development, we are still manually verifying our conservation partners' stakeholders but we hope to implement decentralized governance for automating future conservation partner onboarding.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

We have raised 8.5 ETH (~1880 USD at the time of writing) for our conservation partners. We have invited a new audience to giving by making it accessible to the crypto community. Part of the funds raised by Wildcards that have been transferred to the Wild Tomorrow Fund are being used to purchase natural land to connect conservation areas reintroducing natural migrations.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Since we are a platform in order to scale our platform we need to increase our accessibility for conservation organizations, and we plan to do this by automating the onboarding process allowing them to list their endangered animals. In order to scale our user base and funders, we are building new features such as leaderboards and social profiles as well as exploring cameras in the wild that can be accessed only when you own an animal.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

Milton Friedman stated the primary goal of a company is to maximize profits for its investors, we think differently and believe our primary goal is to maximize the quality of life for our stakeholders. Our goal is to create value for our conservation partners and our users through our platform. Endangered animal habitat and land is a public good and usually, this results in an incentive that the individual can exploit this to a personal benefit at the expense of the general public. We hope to support this public good by introducing radical markets to these public goods resulting in a shared benefit.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We have funded the project through the founders' savings as well as taking on occasional consulting work. We have received early stage funding from CVVC which will give us runway for the next year at our current team size.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Core Team - full time. Denham Preen - South African - Computer Engineer / Economics / Marketing - BSc (hons) Comp Science, Jonjon Clark - Swedish / South African - Computer Engineer / Data Science / Business - MSc Data Science, Jason Smythe - German / South African - Computer Engineer / Blockchain - BSc (hons) Comp Science, Extended Team, Sean Markham - RSA - mathematical analyst, Board Member, Luke Gillott - Swiss - Social Impact Investor - MBA, CAIA - https://chi-impact.com

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

Wildcards directly supports the biodiversity-ecosystem through its conservation partners as a funnel for funding. We connect and screen these causes to ensure the preservation of a variety of animal life and its habitat. A challenge in the ecosystem is to sustainably generate funds for these causes. We have funneled 9.9 ETH (~1565 USD) which has been used in Bolivia to care for Aruma an endangered spectacled bear and in South Africa to reintroduce wildlife like the blue wildebeest into their natural habitat.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Marvin Kruse, crypto enthusiast and collecter has bought 3 unique digital animals, in total he supports these causes to the value of 0.2ETH (~$31) every month. His proof of impact is verifiable on the blockchain and is the proud owner of 3 crypto collectable animals. Another user purchases one of these unique collectables from Marvin and some of Marvin's funds are returned to him which he uses to purchase another wildcard. Through Marvin's entertainment, wildcards is generating funds for the conservation of biodiversity in nature. Marvin doesn't feel the pain of donating his hard-earned money yet still feels the benefit of giving. https://wildcards.world/#user/0x6b90b98733928136cb44675929ca5359d1a76417

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

Wildchain.io Wildchain like Wildcards is gamifying giving to leverage the entertainment market to support conservation and biodiversity. Our purpose and drive is mirrored but we differ in that Wildcards uses an always for sale model which creates a recurring revenue stream. At the time of writing, Wildcards has a live project while Wildchain is not yet live (Although keep a look out as it will be soon).

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

Overall winners of EthCapeTown hackathon | Ubisoft Entrepreneurs Lab, Season 4, Participants | CV Labs incubator program, batch 2

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Corporate contributions 65% | Personal contributions 20% | Prizes & grants 5% | Consulting 10%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

Winning the act for biodiversity challenge would help add validity to our cause when we are trying to partner with conservations. The funds would be used to allocate resources to partnering with conservation organizations and go into the development of new features on the application.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carson McBain

You've created a truly new approach to conservation and wildlife protection, which has high potential to uniquely engage the cryptocurrency community. Its gamified design has a wide appeal; the biggest challenge I'd imagine will be to expand the market and awareness as more people buy in. The biodiversity narrative needs more elaboration to be more strongly connected to the theme of this Challenge; what kind of visibility exists for this and do you have future plans for monitoring impact on biodiversity? I'm really interested in learning more about who the current conservation partners are, and what level of detail is visible to Wildcard users in terms of seeing how their contributions are being used by the different organizations. Also, it could be beneficial to explain what criteria you use to choose conservation partners, as not all NPOs invest the same % of donations into their mission and this may be a concern for some donors. What kind of information do the partners report back to you and the Wildcard users? I'm very intrigued and think that this is a novel idea with a transformative potential to change the way people give, since as you say many donations are not recurring. Thank you for sharing your work with us!

Photo of Denham Preen

Hi Carson

Thank you for the kind words! We are hugely appreciative and are extremely excited to be working on Wildcards.
You raise some really valid questions and concerns, If I can break them down and answer them individually.

- The biodiversity narrative.

Our application addresses the “Nurturing and preservation of forestries” focus area specifically with regard to the biodiversity and preservation of animals within these biomes that are threatened by hunting, and most prevalently deforestation and the loss of natural habitat.

- Visibility.

Transparency is an important requirement with our application and thanks to the blockchain all the funds are entirely traceable, to simplify this process we have written an article that directs users to where they can follow the money.
In an ideal model, the funds would be spent directly in crypto by our conservation partners but we realize until there is mass crypto adoption the funds need to be converted into fiat, at which we lose full traceability. Fortunately the Wild Tomorrow Fund publishes their financials publically https://www.wildtomorrowfund.org/financials-1.

- Monitoring impact
Our grander vision involves having a wildcard for each animal or for larger populations a pool of endangered animals to represent a portion. This would allow us to monitor and channel support to entire animal populations that are vulnerable or critically endangered. Currently, the wildcard tokens are a 1 to 1 mapping of a specific animal. For example, if you are the owner of Nonhlanhla the Hyena your funds will go towards Axel Hunnicutt’s research on the declining Hyena populations in South Africa [1]. Axel is a carnivore ecologist with the Wild Tomorrow Fund.
 We are actively working on features of the platform that will simplify the reporting and updates from researchers like Axel to update the users on our platform. 

[1] (https://www.wildtomorrowfund.org/blog/2018/7/31/launch-of-the-mun-ya-wana-conservancy-spotted-hyena-project)

- Current conservation partners
Our partner onboarding is still a manual and personal process and is analyzed on an individual basis. At their core we require the (registered) NPO to be actively involved in the conservation and preservation of endangered animals and their natural habitat. With our first conservation partners, we have made a personal connection with Wendy and John from the Wild Tomorrow Fund and Vicky and Marcelo from la Senda Verde and analyzed the work they are doing on an individual basis and have found their efforts more than fit to partner with us.