Polygon founder raises $50 million for emerging markets-focused web3 venture capital – TechCrunch

Ethereum Layer Two Scaling Platform Polygon raised $450 million earlier this year in its first major funding round. Now, protocol co-founder Sandeep Nailwal is launching another project, he exclusively told TechCrunch — this time, in the form of Symbolic Capital, a venture capital fund built by and for founders. web3.

Nailwal, along with Cere co-founder Kenzi Wang, raised $50 million for the fund from investors including other venture firms, cryptocurrency exchanges, home offices and institutions, although they do not have specific names. Nailwal said the iconic plan primarily helps companies build consumer-facing decentralized applications (dApps), a move that seems to align with Polygon’s own goal of speeding development. web application 3.

“My core mission is to bring mass adoption to web3 and mass adoption will only happen through apps. It’s not like I’m going to build a blockchain, and people are going to come and use the blockchain – nobody uses the blockchain directly. They always use it through some app,” says Nailwal.

According to Nailwal, the fund has made about 15 investments, including in web3 gaming studio BlinkMoon, Polygon-based metaverse Planet Mojo and e-sports platform Community Gaming.

As a founder of India, Nailwal often seeks to support his home country – he Make the title last year when Vitalik Buterin donated $1 billion worth of crypto to India’s COVID-19 relief fund he arranged. Through this new venture fund, Nailwal said he aims to allocate 80 to 90 percent of the capital to founders, who, like him, come from emerging markets.

“Of course it’s not closed to anyone building in Silicon Valley. But coming from India, I’m technically going to be an angel investor or an advisor for 95% of all the good projects you’ll see coming out of the Indian subcontinent – they’ll come to me as one way or another, for help or guidance,” says Nailwal.

Meanwhile, Wang is very familiar with the web3 ecosystem in China and Southeast Asia, giving the pair a broad view of countries around the world, Nailwal added. He argues that founders in emerging markets are often more pragmatic because of the constraints they face compared to their more well-resourced counterparts in Silicon Valley.

“Because they were all pushed against the wall to survive, they needed to build something that would generate some revenue and they could survive,” says Nailwal. He added that he took a similar approach in developing Polygon, where he said he would test one new technology at a time and wait until it gets some. certain number of users before testing the next idea.

That background is part of why Nailwal thinks Symbolic is particularly well-positioned to support emerging-market founders.

“Many of them have the ability to build businesses that eventually get users, but you need to help them continue to innovate and upskill so that once they have a proven model On a smaller scale, they will continue to grow at a much larger scale and reinvent their idea and business model,” says Nailwal.

A key driving force behind the Symbolic for Nailwal launch is the opportunity to give more formal support to companies already in its orbit, he said, adding that he doesn’t feel it will cost more. plenty of money to manage the fund because it will help him realize the synergies from the relationships he has built, in part through Polygon’s Venture Fund. He and Wang have been prolific angel investors in startups — the pair have co-invested in more than 40 companies since they met at Binance Labs in 2019, he said.

Nailwal says that in Symbolic’s focus on apps, he’s particularly interested in startups in the “creative economy” subsector, such as fantasy sports companies.

“In web3 fantasy, you can have NFTs and you can rent out those NFTs when you’re not playing, so you can get some passive income, plus you can earn tokens on the platform and became part of the platform from a very early stage,” said Nailwal.

He added that those types of offers can sometimes make more sense for users in emerging markets. He gives examples of China’s “money-making” app StepN’s recent user growth and video games played for money The appeal of Axie Infinity as an additional source of income for low-income workers in developing countries to illustrate his point. (Both Nailwal and Wang are angel investors in Axie Infinity’s parent company, Sky Mavis.)

“Many of these crypto models can achieve better sustainable economics in contexts where the cost of living is much lower,” explained Nailwal. India’s Jio 4G network is said to be the fastest in the world, he added, and reaches even deep rural areas – a piece of infrastructure that could help web3 startups attract users across the globe. countries if they offer appropriate economic incentives.

Some startups playing for money on web3 have been criticized for putting already vulnerable people at risk in the event of any incident, such as 625 million dollar hack happened the Ronin Bridge of Axie Infinity in March. Nailwal acknowledges this risk as “a problem,” saying that he advises web3 entrepreneurs to provide as much education and disclosure to users as possible whenever a transaction takes place on their platform.

A key differentiator for Symbolic will be the internal data platform it has built to support the companies in its portfolio as well as to enhance its own due diligence process, Nailwal said. The platform will aggregate and analyze data such as According to the company, GitHub contributions, Discord interactions, and token performance, and hiring and hiring trends.

Ultimately, Nailwal hopes to create an “exclusive social ecosystem” around a platform he likens to Y Combinator’s network.

“We want to do” [this] for both portfolio companies, as well as founders, who we believe will eventually become angel investors in the many new projects to come. [through Symbolic]”Nailwal said.

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