SINGAPORE, Feb. 24, 2022 — Singapore-based game finance (game-fi) blockchain startup, Ethlas, announced today that it has secured US$2.7 million in seed funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital India, Yield Guild Games Southeast Asia, Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, Venturra Capital, Play It Forward DAO, Blockchain Space, Genesis Fund, Deus Ex DAO, Hustle Fund, and executives from Grab, Coinbase, Switcheo and CoinMarketCap. The hitherto stealth start-up has also unveiled the identities of two of its four founders: American Gennady ‘Ari’ Medvinsky and Singaporean Elston Sam, who have both worked in top tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Grab, and Airbnb. The identities of the other two founders – one of whom is a very senior executive with a Big Tech firm – will be disclosed in due course.
The three-month-old Ethlas is the first game-fi startup founded in Singapore to have secured serious investor money, underlining the confidence that VCs have in this fledgling tech startup that first launched quietly in November 2021. Built on the Polygon blockchain, Ethlas has chalked up over 100,000 crypto-wallet users globally and scored some three million gameplays on its platform as of end-January 2022. The rapid scale that Ethlas achieved product market fit has been one of the key reasons for its seed fundraising success.
According to a Bloomberg report in January 2022, the number of blockchain games grew nearly threefold: from about 200 in 2020 to more than 544 in 2021. Most game-fi platforms have a high barrier of entry, requiring gamers to pay subscription fees or have upfront capital. On the contrary, Ethlas – a portmanteau of “Ethereum” and “Atlas” – is a free-to-play, play-to-earn platform which helps the lay person win and encash cryptocurrency, by participating in simple, easily-understood casual games that everyone is familiar with. Think Tetris, Candy Crush and Bubble Popper but way cooler. To start playing, gamers just need to install MetaMask, a software crypto wallet or link their wallets, and they can start playing in the Ethlas metaverse on a PC or mobile phone’s browser. There are no complicated onboarding rules or requirements to sign up with a hefty subscription fee.
“Komo” NFT minted
As part of its product roadmap, Ethlas will mint its first series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called Komos. Modelled after the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia, the Komo NFTs will benefit both free-to-play gamers and crypto natives: Free-to-play gamers can use the five tiers of the Komo NFT to boost their gameplay and secure more $XGEM (Exchange Genesis Ethlas Medium), the in-game cryptocurrency in the Ethlas metaverse; crypto natives can benefit from the intrinsic value of a well-designed NFT that has in-game utility and facilitates scholarships (NFT rental). The Komo NFT series will be available before end-February 2022. Ethlas is also working with game studios to launch their games on their platform through a revenue-sharing model.
“The unique value proposition of Komo NFTs is that they do not only function as game passes on Ethlas granting players special access to games and features, they are also asset-backed NFTs, which consist of staked tokens wrapped as an ERC-721 token that has recently started gaining popularity. Ethlas’ Komo NFTs possess both intrinsic artistic as well as monetary value, thereby driving up their desirability as a piece of tradeable art. Most game NFTs do not provide such value as Komo,” says Ethlas co-founder, Elston Sam.
Moonshot vision of one billion users
The founders of Ethlas were intrigued by the potential of game-fi when they read of Filipinos earning more money from playing games on game-fi platforms than from their day jobs. With their convictions that Web 3.0 will be powered by cryptocurrency and its social impact, the four founders decided to take the plunge and leave their well-paying jobs to build Ethlas. Their moonshot vision: make crypto inclusive and accessible by onboarding the next billion non-crypto users onto the Ethlas metaverse. Ethlas has plans to work with regulators to develop a framework for game-fi as it believes regulations and consumer education are key to facilitate the growth of this currently nascent but immense game-fi ecosystem in a safe and controlled manner.
“Consumer gaming platforms can amass millions of engaged players – combine that with asset ownership through NFTs and a crypto rewards layer, the network incentives fall back into the hands of the players. This is an immensely powerful flywheel. We also like that Ethlas is onboarding native gamers onto Web 3.0 and that the team is hyper-focused on delivering a delightful gaming experience. We have been very impressed with the platform’s rapid user adoption and high gamer engagement, suggesting strong future growth prospects,” Aakash Kapoor, Vice President, Sequoia India.
“We recognise that blockchain has a high barrier of entry, and currently appeals only to a skewed demographic. While GBIC is always looking out for blockchain startups to invest in, we are looking for those with a serious direction and vision. The direction of Ethlas was very clear and we believe in their vision that games will be a significant channel to onboard the next billion users into crypto. Unlike the current play-to-earn games, Ethlas’ operating model allows even people who do not even know crypto to just do a one-click sign in with MetaMask, and they can play for fun and earn. We are excited to be one of the early VCs to help Ethlas take flight,” says Sinhae Lee, Partner, Global Blockchain Innovation Capital.
Ethlas has built up a team of more than 20 blockchain engineers, game developers, data scientists, cybersecurity experts and designers, based out of Singapore, Philippines and the United States. The startup is founded in Singapore as the country has a good tech ecosystem that fosters and enables innovation, especially in crypto, and has good access to venture capital. It will leverage its seed funding to aggressively hire tech talent in the Web 3.0 space.
Launched in November 2021, Ethlas is a free-to-play/play-to-earn blockchain-based game finance (GameFi) Metaverse built on the Polygon chain, the protocol for enabling interoperability and scalability within the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem. Founded by a group of four tech leaders with extensive experience in leading teams across tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Airbnb and Grab, etc, Ethlas is headquartered in Singapore with offices in San Francisco Bay Area and New York, United States, and Manila, Philippines.
Within two months of its beta launch and with minimal marketing, Ethlas chalked up more than three million gameplays with over 100,000 unique wallet IDs to its gamepage. Ethlas minted its first Windblown asset-backed NFTs in December 2021.
The Ethlas GameFi metaverse has been voted “Best NFT Project” by Polygon, and ranked the number one blockchain casual game on PlayToEarn.net, which tracks and ranks the most popular crypto and NFT blockchain games.
Ethlas is backed by Sequoia Capital India, Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, Play It Forward DAO, Genesis Fund, Blockchain Space, Venturra Capital, and executives from Coinbase, CoinMarketCap, Grab and Switcheo.
Glydways Announces $56 Million Series B Round With New Science Ventures, ACS Group, Khosla Ventures and Gates Frontier
Funding arrives on the heels of Glydways and its partners being awarded both San Jose Mineta Airport – Diridon Station Connector and Contra Costa Transportation Authority/Tri Delta Transit’s Dynamic Personal Micro Transit projects
Glydways total funding to date now exceeds $70 million
Glydways, a leader in developing on-demand Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), today announced it’s $56 million Series B round, including the conversion of notes valued at more than $28 million and led by New Science Ventures with participation from The ACS Group and Gates Frontier. Khosla Ventures, Glydways first investor, is also participating in this latest round. The company has raised more than $70 million to date.
In addition to this recent funding, Glydways has been selected by Contra Costa Transportation Authority and Tri Delta Transit (Authorities) for the initial, vital segment of the Dynamic Personal Micro Transit project to increase public transit accessibility for the fast-growing communities of Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood. The Project will be jointly administered by the Authorities and is designed to complement, enhance and expand existing public transportation options to create a meaningful multi-modal system. This is the second significant project Glydways has been awarded already this year, with the first being the City of San Jose’s project connecting San Jose Mineta International Airport to the City’s downtown Diridon Station, both located in California.
“We are thrilled and grateful to welcome this brilliant group of investors to the Glydways team,” said Gokul Hemmady, CEO of Glydways. “Investing in a new form of public mobility requires both vision and a belief in the future we are building together with our customers and their communities. These three partners, along with Khosla Ventures, understand the complex dynamics around public transit and are the perfect team to help guide us as we develop and refine our technology to revolutionize urban mass transit.”
Somu Subramaniam, NSV Managing Partner added, “Glydways is leading a revolution in urban mass transit. We are very impressed with the company’s momentum and the technologies they have developed. We’re believers in Glydways’ compelling value proposition to enable their solution to become a new mode of transit for city planners across the world.”
Nuria Haltiwanger, CEO for ACS Infrastructure also added “As a world leading infrastructure business, we can see the strategic value of Glydways and how it will transform public transit for the benefit of the communities it will serve.”
There are 4,037 cities around the world that have the population density whereby mass transit systems are needed and can be supported. Yet, only 194 (4.8%) of them actually have a rail or metro system. Glydways has developed a revolutionary approach to urban mass transit that is much more affordable and accessible for the 95% of cities around the world that have no solution – a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system of on-demand, personal, autonomous, battery-operated electric vehicles traveling on small, dedicated rights of way that can be built at-grade, elevated, or tunneled and integrates with any public transportation options.
The vehicles, called Glydcars, exclusively use these lanes with no crossings and no other vehicles which means Glydcars travel unimpeded with no stops or slowdowns. The system can move up to 10,000 people per hour per lane/direction, which means larger numbers of riders will move more comfortably, sustainably and affordably than ever before, all for the cost of a transit fare. This approach offers net-new capacity, which means vehicle trips are removed from city streets, thus reducing overall traffic congestion. The CAPEX requirements for the Glydways system is a fraction of the cost to build rail or bus lanes, and because the system is on-demand, its OPEX is also significantly smaller too. The Glydways system generates zero emissions. Each car is electric battery powered and bi-directional. We have thoughtfully designed the Glydcar to optimize its range (weight, resistance, features), which makes Glydways one of the most climate-friendly mobility systems in the world.
New Science Ventures, LLC (NSV) is a leading venture capital firm focused on building companies that leverage breakthrough science to create extraordinary value. NSV invests in companies using science-based innovations to address market needs in the life sciences and information technology sectors.
The ACS Group is a strategic infrastructure partner to Glydways and is focused on building a better future through the development and operation of infrastructure that helps the economic and social progress of the countries where they operate.
Glydways was founded in 2016 by Mark Seeger and its mission is to revolutionize urban mobility and provide more equitable access to affordable housing, jobs, education, healthcare, and community. We accomplish this via our innovative approach of a closed-road, fully autonomous, high capacity personal rapid transit system. Closed-road means dedicated lanes, with no traffic or congestion. This allows Glydcars to perform a service on demand, anytime 24/7, continuously moving with no slowing or stopping until the passenger reaches their destination, all with no emissions. Dedicated lanes also mean an easier and faster certification path than Level 5 open road autonomy. Additionally, unlike autonomous automobiles, our vehicles never share the road with human-driven vehicles, which is actually proving to increase congestion, drive times, and accident rates, not decrease them. Our customer experience is like ride hailing, but at public transit prices.
Fintech Startup CrossFund Raises Additional $1.5M in Funding at a $47M Valuation
Fintech startup, CrossFund, has raised its fourth funding round in two years from family offices in MENA and Asia, BlockBase Ventures, UI Investments, Australian Gulf Capital, BXB Capital, and strategic angels. Founded in 2021 by Ben Cardarelli and Davide Cali, the company has quickly become the equity financing tool of choice for startups in SEA and EMEA with over $40M raised across 80 investments, 15,000 accredited investors, and its first exit to a NASDAQ-listed company. It has also become recognized as a platform for governments to foster innovation and attract FDI through hi-tech startups.
“Having spent nearly 10 years in Asia, we quickly built a strong base of investors and startups here,” says Ben. “These markets we’re in – like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Philippines – have large populations, a young, tech-savvy workforce, low labor costs, and an emerging middle class. Our vision has always been to invest early in founders and give people access to valuable startup equity in the economies of the future.”
Ho Chi Minh has become CrossFund‘s strategic base, with the team gaining exclusive access to the most promising startups in Vietnam and SEA. The chance to own equity in international startups with as little as US$5,000, no carry, limited fees, and mentor founders is a value proposition that has resonated with investors.
CrossFund‘s portfolio has grown over 400% in two years and includes an exit, with Edugo’s acquisition. CrossFund‘s portfolio includes high-performers like Clever (APAC), Vulcan (Vietnam), Lipa Later (Kenya), Styched (India), beU (Ethiopia), and Swag Kicks (Pakistan), some of which are raising Series B and backed by leading investors like SOSV, Goodwater, VECTR, i2i, YOLO, YCombinator, and Techstars.
CrossFund‘s success is largely attributed to its use of AI in the vetting, fundraising process, and its Web3 integrations. CrossFund is able to leverage data to rapidly match investors with startups based on sector, stage, geography, areas of expertise, and other granular factors.
“Venture capital is very conservative and traditionally low tech. My background spans over 25 years in IT and I started working with AI in 2002. Our vision was always to leverage technology to disrupt the industry.” says Davide. “The convergence of fundraising with hi-tech is what allows us to scale quickly across different emerging markets.”
With US giants like AngelList, OurCrowd, Republic, and StartEngine having grown into unicorns, backed by VCs like Tiger, SoftBank, and Valor, CrossFund sees similar growth potential in large, emerging markets. US incumbents crave international expansion and are gazing East, seen in Republic’s acquisition of Seedrs and StartEngine’s acquisition of SeedInvest.
“We believe in the rise of Asia and MENA as beacons of innovation,” begins Ben. “Singapore, HK, UAE, and KSA are powerful investment hubs for us. We are leading this vast transition of wealth towards the emerging world and are only at the beginning with what we can accomplish.”
Boston based Startup Mona Lee Secures $3.25M Seed Round to Redefine the Clean Energy Experience for Consumers
Converting to sustainable energy can be a costly and confusing process for consumers. Mona Lee is moving the clean energy industry forward with its innovative and customer-centric approach, allowing homeowners to install solar panels and storage for 40-50% lower costs than what the competition offers.
Mona Lee, a Boston-based startup founded by former Tesla employee Walid Halty, has announced the successful closure of a $3.25 million seed funding round. The round included investments from prominent players in the technology and consumer sectors, such as Ludlow Ventures, Shrug VC, Palm Tree Crew (founded by Norwegian DJ Kygo), Coalition Operators, Plug and Play Ventures, and The Pags Group, owned by Boston Celtics’ owner Steve Pagliuca.
Mona Lee is on a mission to make solar, storage and EV charging installation for homes affordable and hassle-free. Since its launch, the company has experienced remarkable growth, installing in over 7 states with over 150 new customers per month and an average cost-per-order of $28,000.
The potential for growth in the home solar and storage industry is staggering, with an estimated $250 billion opportunity over the next six years alone. With 142 million homes in the U.S. and only 2 million having switched to solar in the past two decades, Mona Lee aims to tap into the remaining 140 million homes expected to adopt solar power alone by 2029.
The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has fueled consumer interest in clean energy in recent years and Mona Lee has met the moment. The company’s unique selling proposition lies in its AI-powered buying experience. Mona Lee’s technology demystifies the process of designing and purchasing a complete solar panel and storage system for homes, while cutting costs for consumers by 40-50%.
Mona Lee’s CEO, Walid Halty, shared his excitement about the company’s recent funding success, stating, “This funding round is a testament to the need for Mona Lee’s innovative approach in the home solar and storage industry. We are committed to making solar and storage installation a no-brainer for all homeowners, and this investment will allow us to further accelerate our growth and expand our reach.”
With its innovative technology and commitment to bringing affordable and seamless solar and storage installation to homes across the country, Mona Lee is poised to redefine the clean energy experience for consumers.
About Mona Lee
Mona Lee is a Boston-based startup co-founded by Walid Halty, an ex-Tesla employee. The company is focused on making solar installation affordable and hassle-free for homeowners. With its AI-powered design and buying experience, Mona Lee aims to simplify the process of purchasing and installing a complete solar panel system–enabling every home to fulfill its own energy needs, while contributing to a more sustainable future.
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