Investment community and “social experiment” UniWhales has raised $2.2 million in funding as part of a broader effort to transition to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).
Signum Capital led the round along with HyperChain Capital, Faculty Capital, Impossible Finance and Double Peak Capital, the company announced Tuesday. A number of angels also contributed, including PopcornKirby, Kris Cheng, Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal and the Daedalus Angel Syndicate.
The majority of the funds will be used to help add team members to build out the DAO and develop new products as the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) swells into an $88 billion slice of the crypto economy.
According to UniWhales co-founder Matt Aaron, the raise is a sign of the project’s growing ambition.
“We’re raising funds because this started as an experiment, using token-gated, Web 3 data analytics,” he said. “But now we’re looking to become a full-on DAO, bring on staff and go from being a token-gated platform to a fully decentralized DAO.”
In an interview with CoinDesk, Aaron said the project initially started as a simple Telegram alert channel to let people know about major trades on decentralized exchange Uniswap.
Following the popularity of the channel, Aaron and co-founder Temur Mirzosharipov launched the token-gated access service, attracting a broad swath of the DeFi community including engineers, venture capitalists and high-profile pseudonymous Crypto Twitter traders. Membership requires 5,000 UniWhales tokens (UWLs), roughly $3,700.
That community is now UniWhales’ biggest asset as it looks to expand its services.
“A lot of our DAO members are well-connected, high-net-worth individuals,” said Aaron, noting that upwards 35% of DAO members have given feedback on how the product should operate.
The dynamic leads to a much more efficient iteration system than a company having to “bribe users with Starbucks gift cards,” he joked, adding:
“Web 2 is where you have the team, product and customers, and in Web 3 you have the team and DAO members collaborating on products together.”
One product the team will develop is Drip, an on-chain affiliate marketing product built on Polygon, which first emerged from a ETHGlobal non-fungible token (NFT) hackathon. Additionally, the team will continue in its “mission to lower DeFi brain fatigue” via community-sourced, “curated” data for members.
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