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Auckland Teen Launches A T-shirt Startup With An NFT Twist

When Eli Conroy launched his NFT startup, the 16-year-old knew his venture had to have a heart.

Eli grew up with a unique perspective. His mum, Siobhan, has the genetic mutation that marks out neuroendocrine cancer, which causes cancerous tumours to form at any time. Siobhan, whose drive to help others with her condition saw her start the Unicorn Foundation New Zealand, says her uncertain health means a "question mark" hangs over the family.

Eli's giving ethic -- coupled with a cryptocurrency obsession and an entrepreneurial streak a mile wide -- has resulted in NFTees, T-shirts with a twist. Each shirt features a digital artwork created by a celebrity, and with each sale, buyers receive an NFT (non-fungible token) of the artwork, with half the T-shirt profits donated to the celebrity's chosen charity.

An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects: like art, music, or videos. Bought and sold online, they’re an increasingly mainstream part of the online landscape.

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"I wanted to do a physical product," Eli said. "T-shirts are easy to print, and they’re visible, not like socks and underwear."

The first artist Eli convinced to get on board was basketballer and Heart Kids NZ ambassador Tom Abercrombie. Abercrombie, who has played 13 seasons with the Breakers and is the club’s all-time leading scorer with over 3,500 points, has a young daughter with a heart condition that requires a pacemaker. As an ambassador, Abercrombie has spent the last two years giving back to the organisation that has supported his family on their heart journey.

Heart Kids NZ is the only organisation in Aotearoa NZ dedicated to supporting people with heart conditions through childhood and into adulthood.

Chief Executive Dr Ruth Gorinski, said Eli's generous gesture would help Heart Kids NZ in their drive to support families at the most difficult time in their lives.

"We're immensely touched by Eli's generous idea, and his partnership with Tom Abercrombie," Gorinski said. "Eli’s entrepreneurial initiative demonstrates a committed heart to our charity and absolutely exemplifies our Heart Kids values. We are so grateful to Eli for his selfless support."

Find out more about NFTees here:

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