New crypto startups forged ahead during Alliance DAO's demo day on Wednesday amid the FTX implosion.
“This is actually worse than the 2018 bear market,” Qiao Wang, a core contributor at Alliance DAO, said, referring to the tentative plans for Binance to absorb competitor FTX. “Today, everyone was caught off guard, myself included … the last three months of working closely with our founders in All9, I’m hopeful again. It’s people like them that will push our industry forward.”
The most recent cohort, known as All9, for Alliance DAO, a web3 accelerator and builder community, presented their ideas on Wednesday during a demo day, exclusively covered by TechCrunch. It seems like it was just yesterday that we covered Alliance DAO’s previous demo day, but four months have passed.
Twice a year, Alliance DAO brings in web3 founders for a three-month program. To date, Alliance DAO alumni have created more than $10 billion in market capitalization, Wang said. There were about 953 applications for this cohort, but only 17 teams were chosen and graduated from the program.
Many of the teams are looking at improving crypto themes like proof-of-physical-work, wallet experience for everyday users, product-driven protocols, crypto B2B products, on-chain data and verticalization, Wang said. “The cohort is a fairly representative sample of what’s happening in the industry at large.”
The cohort focused on a range of subsectors and products across web3, like authentication, liquid staking, crypto wallets and decentralized machine learning, among others. About 38% of the startups focused on the Ethereum ecosystem, while Polygon made up 21% and Solana 17%.
Mentors include Colleen Sullivan, co-head of ventures at Brevan Howard Digital; Mike Dudas, founder of LinksDAO, The Block and an investor for 6th Man Ventures; Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana; Ryan Selkis, founder and CEO of Messari; Mounir Benchemled, founder of ParaSwap; Amir Bandeali, co-CEO of 0x Labs; and Ryan Wyatt, CEO of Polygon Studios.
Here’s a breakdown of the 17 startups:
Company name: Ora
What it does: Search engine for web3
The pitch: Ora is building a search engine for web3 as the ecosystem continues to expand, co-founder Jacob Shiohira said during his pitch. “Blockchain data is confusing and we can see this in explorers today,” he said. For crypto to go mainstream, there need to be products that every person can understand, he added. Ora aims to combine sequel engines, dashboards and explorers through one interface. It began with indexing data from the layer-1 blockchain Solana, but plans to expand across web3.
Company name: Mensari
What it does: QuickBooks for web3
The pitch: Mensari aims to help businesses involved in web3 with its own QuickBooks platform. As organizations integrate crypto, their bookkeeping complexity is “skyrocketing,” co-founder Vidur Jain said during his presentation. Mensari built a double-entry accounting system offering operational accounting and portfolio accounting for organizations with web3 idiosyncrasies like asset swaps, payment streaming, NFTs and liquidity provision. The platform is live on blockchains Ethereum and Polygon and has 15 beta customers to date.
Company name: Tensor
What it does: Solana-focused NFT aggregator
The pitch: Tensor is aiming to build a Solana-focused NFT aggregator. Current NFT marketplaces cater to retail investors, not traders, and as more professionals enter the NFT market, they need more sophisticated tooling, Ilja Moisejevs said during his pitch. Tensor aims to provide Solana-based NFT traders more services so they can “fire off hundreds of transactions across eight of the largest marketplaces with just a single click.”
Company name: Raleon
What it does: Web3 marketing analytics
The pitch: Raelon is building a marketing analytics firm for web3. The current marketing technology doesn’t cater to web3 tools or on-chain and off-chain data, so it needs to be revamped to consider new technologies, co-founder Nathan Snell said. Raleon combines blockchain data with Web 2.0 data to create an “enriched identity” so projects can target web3 users, Snell said. The platform is looking for strategic investors to source customers.
Company name: Spexigon
What it does: Proof-of-physical-work for drone imagery
The pitch: Spexigon is a proof-of-physical-work platform for drone imagery where drone owners can earn crypto by capturing imagery in a fly-to-earn rewards system. Pilots are rewarded with tokens once the algorithm verifies images and moves it into the marketplace for consumption by businesses and developers. The platform has had over $1.5 million in revenue over the past eight months after gaining interest from government agencies, engineering firms and rail companies, to name a few. It has raised $5.5 million in a seed round with participation from Alliance DAO, Dapper Labs and others.
Company name: SlashAuth
What it does: Web3 authentication
The pitch: SlashAuth is a web3 authentication platform that aims to help developers create distributed and secure identities across both Web 2.0 and web3 ecosystems. It cryptographically merges identities across both layers so users can have access to all of their accounts through one single sign-in, co-founder Nicolas Salhuana said during his presentation. It currently is in closed beta and has raised $3 million from investors like Alliance DAO and Y Combinator.
Company name: Stride
What it does: Cosmos-focused liquid staking
The pitch: Stride is building a liquid staking platform for layer-1 blockchain Cosmos. Users can trade their tokens for Stride’s ST tokens, then Stride stakes those tokens for users to be used throughout the Cosmos DeFi ecosystem. The platform was launched eight weeks ago but has $7 million in total value locked, $150,000 of recurring revenue and over 8,000 users, co-founder Vishal Talasani said. Stride has raised $6.7 million from investors like Pantera, Distributed Global, North Island Ventures, 1confirmation and Staking Facilities. It’s looking for LP commitments in exchange for Stride tokens.
Company name: Ethos
What it does: Sui-focused crypto wallet
The pitch: Ethos is a “wallet super app” for the Sui blockchain. The wallet offers Web 2.0-like features, like sign-in with email, which enables developers to provide a better user experience, co-founder Nadia Eldeib said during her presentation. The wallet has built an on-chain game where Ethos users can pre-approve transactions through its wallet. Since launching last month, there have been over 32,000 weekly users on its Chrome extension wallet. Ethos has raised $2.4 million from FTX, Tribe Capital and Mysten Labs.
Company name: Chain ML
What it does: Decentralized machine learning
The pitch: Chain ML is a decentralized machine learning platform. It allows smart contracts and dApps to leverage machine learning and aims to not compromise on censorship resistance, tamper-proofing or usability. It leverages decentralized databases, oracles and compute networks running machine learning services to provide censorship resistance. Chain ML recently raised $4 million in a seed round led by iOS G. Its MVP launches in the first quarter of 2023.
Company name: Legends of Venari
What it does: Pokemon Go of web3
The pitch: Legends of Venari has taken the concept of Pokémon GO and brought it to the digital world through metaverses. Its software development kit shifted the focus from ownership of the game assets to ownership of an entire game’s ecosystem, co-founder Jason Du said during the demo day. Since launching 10 months ago, the game has an average of 3,000 weekly active users and has partnered with several NFT communities like Fractal. It has raised $5.4 million in a seed round led by Lattice Capital.
Company name: Sort
What it does: Web3 firebase
Founder: Jason Zucchetto
The pitch: Sort aims to be an easier way for developers to build dApps. “It’s still incredibly painful to write a decentralized application,” founder Jason Zucchetto said during demo day. Sort wants to simplify the process of writing open-source dApps by providing tool kits and cut-and-paste codes for developers. Over 200 people look at their tutorials per day, Zucchetto said. Sort is currently raising a seed round.
Company name: Persona
What it does: Building group chats as DAOs
The pitch: Persona is building group chats as “lightweight DAOs,” co-founder Raeez Lorgat said during demo day. The popularity for DAOs have grown significantly over the past year, but the tools to form and manage DAOs remain fragmented across platforms. Persona wants to simplify the process so users can pool and govern funds within minutes for any specific shared purpose. Persona has raised $4.5 million to date from investors like ECCO Capital, Alliance DAO, CYGNI Capital and Protagonist.
Company name: Ostium
What it does: Commodities on-chain
The pitch: Ostium is a platform aiming to bring commodity markets on-chain. Many commodity markets are not accessible to non-institutional investors, co-founder Kaledora Kiernan-Linn said during demo day. The problems in commodity markets are solvable through decentralized finance, Kiernan-Linn added. By mirroring off-chain assets on-chain through oracles like Pyth, protocols like Ostium aims to provide liquid fractional exposure to assets at market price. Ostium is raising capital for a seed round and looking to partner with investors with expertise in liquidity provisioning.
Company name: Slise
What it does: Web3-native ad platform
The pitch: Slise is a web3 digital advertising-focused platform that aims to analyze on-chain activity to provide tailored ads across the web3 ecosystem. It is available on blockchains like Ethereum, Solana and Polygon. Slise won the Polygon Build It hackathon this past summer and is raising a seed round.
Company name: Space and Time
What it does: Decentralized data warehouse
Stage: Series A
The pitch: Space and Time is a decentralized data platform that aims to help businesses grow through smart contract technology. It uses “Proof-of-SQL” cryptography to allow business logic in traditional centralized systems to be automated and connected directly to smart contracts. It also plans to integrate the platform with Microsoft Azure. In September, Space and Time raised $20 million in a strategic funding round led by Microsoft’s M12.
Company name: 0xPass
What it does: Web 2.0-like user experience for decentralized applications (dApps)
The pitch: 0xPass aims to bring Web 2.0-like user experiences to dApps so that mainstream users can have modern UX advantages in a wallet-agnostic manner. Some of its web3 user experience changes include onboarding users without wallets, pre-approving transactions and integrating 0xPass with a few lines of code. Its closed beta for onboarding SDKs launched last week and is being tested with 10 projects. It has raised $600,000 so far and is raising its seed round.
Company name: Niural
What it does: Compliant crypto payroll
The pitch: Niural is a compliant crypto payroll platform. It built a payment protocol on Polygon that enables real-time payroll for both fiat and crypto with low gas fees and a web3-focused human resources platform that can handle taxes and misclassification risk. It partnered with companies like Renfroe, which has over 20,000 employees, and Scrum Launch, which has team members across 72 countries. Niural has raised $5 million in a seed round with participation from Inspired Capital, New Form Capital, Alliance DAO and others. It's currently seeking strategic investors.