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Memecoins as the New GTM Strategy

The next big thing may start out by piggybacking off a popular memecoin

This post first appeared in Li’s newsletter.


The next big thing may start out by piggybacking off a popular memecoin.

One emerging go-to-market strategy is to draft off a memecoin that is gaining adoption and momentum. While traditional GTM consisted of first building a product then building a community around it through marketing and memes, this new playbook involves identifying a vibrant community of users around a memecoin then building a product that incorporates that token.

By launching a project that natively integrates with a popular memecoin, the new app/infra can mobilize the memecoin’s holder base, who can experience more utility from their tokens.

Here are some examples:

  • BONKbot, a Telegram trading bot on Solana, originated from the $BONK token, a Solana memecoin that was airdropped to users at the end of 2022. An independent team then launched the trading bot, which utilizes part of the fees from trading to buy and burn the BONK token, thereby economically aligning itself with tokenholders. The trading bot recently crossed daily trading volume of $200 million (compare that to Base, which averages about $200 million in daily trading volume).

  • This strategy also works for infra projects. Take, for example, $SHIB launching the Ethereum layer 2 Shibarium, which acts as a token sink for SHIB by using transaction fees to burn SHIB tokens. By incorporating the token into the L2, this strategy activates the existing community of holders to overcome the cold start of a new L2.

  • Berachain, a bear-themed EVM-compatible blockchain that launched its testnet in January, also had its genesis in memes of the NFT variety. SmokeyTheBera originally started an NFT project in 2021 called Bong Bears, and over time, built a community that it has parlayed into an engaged developer and user base.

Given the high engagement and tribalism of top memecoin communities, I think this strategy of leveraging memecoins for one’s GTM will become increasingly popular across the stack, enabling other projects to bootstrap attention. For anyone building a crypto consumer app, for example, adding utility for a memecoin can activate tokenholders, who are naturally more inclined to find new ways to utilize their tokens. Drakula, a short video app, and Perl, a prediction market game, both accept $DEGEN for payment, attempting to capitalize off the momentum of that holder community (which numbers over 49,000 wallets as of March). The increase in token usage and, potentially, value may then drive a virtuous cycle, where user interest may increase for both the token and applications that integrate it.

We’ve also seen projects go the other direction, starting product-first and then launching (or being closely associated with) a memecoin that generates more interest for the project. For example, a contributor linked to Jupiter, a decentralized exchange aggregator on Solana, launched the $WEN memecoin in January 2024, airdropping it to over 1 million wallets that had swapped more than $5 on Jupiter. As the first token launched through Jupiter’s LFG Launchpad, it also piqued interest in that platform.

It’s also worth mentioning that all of the above have clear benefits to memecoins themselves, and it makes sense for memecoin teams to try to incentivize and partner with projects to integrate with their tokens.

Using memecoins as a GTM strategy has parallels to other web3 growth strategies involving tokens, including airdropping tokens to members of a particular community or users of a competing product. These tactics are made feasible by the open data of blockchains, which can be leveraged for granular targeting. This strategy can also be likened to tactics in the web2 world, from community-led growth, wherein brands cultivate their customer bases to increase word of mouth, to brand partnerships that cross-pollinate complementary user bases, like Lyft’s partnership with Delta. But whereas offchain partnerships are challenging to execute due to siloed data and systems, crypto enables permissionless integration, wherein any developer can build around a memecoin. There is also financial skin in the game among tokenholder communities to see the value of their tokens grow, potentially fostering even greater receptiveness to partner projects.

While many dismiss memecoin trading as gambling or a strange form of financial entertainment, their growing popularity and intense communities may mean that they become a viable part of GTM strategies. For users, the new development is that, as assets, memecoins allow anyone to invest in and own a piece of a GTM strategy, grassroots community, internet culture, and community currency.



This post is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investment and should not be used in the evaluation of the merits of making any investment decision. It should not be relied upon for accounting, legal or tax advice or investment recommendations. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by Variant. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, Variant has not independently verified such information. Variant makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. This post reflects the current opinions of the authors and is not made on behalf of Variant or its Clients and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Variant, its General Partners, its affiliates, advisors or individuals associated with Variant. The opinions reflected herein are subject to change without being updated.

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