College sports startup Mercury has raised $7.5 million from Multicoin and other venture backers betting that its invisible crypto-tech can enable a lucrative wave of experiences for fans, the company said Thursday.
Mercury is using non-fungible tokens (NFT) on the Flow blockchain as access passes to IRL experiences for college fan bases. But the back end should be irrelevant to Mercury’s end users, CEO Porter Grieve told CoinDesk. He does not want customers to think about the more technical part of the initiative.
“We want sports fans that don’t care about NFTs,” Grieve said.
Instead, Mercury wants to focus attention on the potential for creating hyperlocal fan clubs using the company’s digital collectibles. It is building platforms for the Clemson Tigers, the Villanova Wildcats and other NCAA Division I sports powerhouses to give fans access to memorable experiences, including interviews with players, and running down the field on game day.
Fans can only access these experiences by holding Mercury NFTs.
“My issue with the NFT space all along is there’s a distribution problem” when it comes to sports, Grieve said, explaining why Mercury’s catering to localized fan bases – colleges – creates an edge over better-known platforms.
One curveball: “Name, image, likeness.” The new NCAA rules enabling college athletes to monetize themselves means Mercury must sign each player individually to include them on the platform.
Multicoin Capital led the round with participation from North Island Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Brevan Howard Digital, and others, a press release said.
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