BlockDown Croatia: Founder Erhan Korhaliller Reflects on World's First NFT-Enabled Web3 Festival

BlockDown Croatia: Founder Erhan Korhaliller Reflects on World's First NFT-Enabled Web3 Festival
D. Carvalho

May 21, 2022 - It's been one week since the world's first NFT-enabled Web3 festival was held at Amadria Park Hotel Ivan in Šibenik, transforming Croatia into the crypto capital of the world. TCN spoke to BlockDown Croatia founder Erhan Korhaliller to find out why Šibenik was chosen as the lucky location to highlight the exploding phenomenon of Web3. 

BlockDown Croatia was held at Amadria Park Hotel Ivan from May 11 to 13 to focus on the Web3 world, particularly the metaverse, NFTs, gaming, and the role of DAOs in how we work, and play and socialize.

NFTs functioned as the tickets for the festival where participants were able to unlock exclusive experiences, connecting the potential of the metaverse with the real world. Attendees came to Šibenik from more than 50 countries, with 45 speakers, ten keynote sessions, presentations, panels, exhibitions, prizes, networking sessions hosted by figureheads in the industry, afternoon boat parties, VIP lunches and dinners, NFT galleries, and dinners at St. Michael's fortress. It was three days packed with innovative discussions and next-level networking, bringing together professionals, entrepreneurs, regulators, prominent industry executives, and investors from all parts of the world.


"Unlike existing industry events, we plan to take our attendees on a three-day trip into another universe, where the excitement and energy of the Web3, NFT, and metaverse worlds collide in a feast for the senses," said BlockDown festival founder Erhan Kohallier before the event, emphasizing that this was the first-ever NFT enabled Blockchain conference. 

And it was Šibenik to have this honor. 

TCN was one of the lucky conference attendees and got to catch up with BlockDown founder Erhan Kohallier on the conference's final day to learn more. 


'I'm 31 and spent a lot of time in Croatia in my early 20s going to festivals and always loved how beautiful it is, how warm the people are, and had special memories here. I knew that I wanted to do an event here at some point in my career - little did I know that it would be a crypto event. We launched BlockDown because of lockdown (blockchain + lockdown), and we launched it as a virtual event to put smiles on people's faces. We did six virtual events, and this was our first in-person event. All of the concepts we have tried to do on virtual streams have been upbeat, an event for the people, creative and fun. We wanted to bring that into the real world."



But why Šibenik?

"We didn't want to do this in a city center or Miami or London as there are so many of them already. We were scouting locations and looking for places in Europe specifically as we felt that Europe needed an NFT/Web3 festival, which doesn't exist here. There are loads in the US but barely any in Europe. So it came down to Portugal and Croatia. We were looking for a convention center with a main stage that could hold 1500 people. This convention center in Šibenik had that. Then we shortlisted the locations in Portugal and Croatia to see what else they could offer, and when I came to Amadria Park, my jaw hit the floor. The natural beauty of this place is insane. While we spent a fair amount on production, we almost didn't need to because everything here is already beautiful. That helped us with the festival vibe. Every area gives you a different vibe. I wanted people to meet more naturally as opposed to being rushed. We wanted to add elements like sound healing and yoga, beach bar happy hours, boat parties, and events outside of the actual conference," said Kohallier.



"Everyone commented on how amazing this location is. And I've never been to an event in crypto or even outside of crypto that is this beautiful. But what people loved is that this conference wasn't solely tied to 9-5 in the convention center. We ended all panels in the early afternoon so attendees could enjoy the outdoors here and the beautiful days. I've also had incredible feedback about the actual attendees. The conference had a laid-back vibe which was a positive. No one felt the pressure to have to network; it was done in a more natural way and environment."



Did you encounter any issues in Croatia?

"I realized it's not easy to do things outside of Zagreb as much of what we needed for this event came from Zagreb, from the production team to the dancers. That caused us some roadblocks, but I love a challenge. It was all part of the process and made this event more rewarding for me. We managed to work through everything."


Will BlockDown stay in Šibenik?

"I am not 100% sure as we want to bring BlockDown to other areas of the world. We are also looking to take it into Asia, Bali - other beautiful natural settings, and emerging markets like South America and Africa. The idea is that we have the teams in place now, and we keep scaling up. Maybe we have an event every three months with multiple teams working on them. I would love to do something in Croatia again. Having the first in-person BlockDown in Šibenik is a testament to how beautiful Šibenik and the area are. After meeting so many wonderful people in Croatia, this event can only improve." 

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