Revel, an NFT or “social collectibles” platform, raised $7.8 million in seed financing led by Dragonfly Capital, the startup’s CEO, Adi Sideman, exclusively told TechCrunch.
“One way to describe Revel is a cross between Instagram and Robinhood, wrapped in social game economics,” Sideman said.
Instagram is known as a social media platform while Robinhood is known as an investing and trading platform. Revel blends them both, helping consumers build a “portfolio of media [and] of the people they collect,” Sideman said. (As a side note, Instagram announced earlier this month that creators on its platform will soon be able to create their own NFTs and sell them directly to fans, both on and off the visual social network.)
Revel’s marketplace allows users to create NFTs for their followers, friends or community and also allows people to own editions of the media they like and follow, Sideman said.
“Followers have a stake in the community they participate in and that is a powerful new experience,” Sideman said. “It’s nuanced, but it’s powerful.”
And it’s not just a financial stake, he added. “I am talking about the emotional stake, the community stake, the status, the new paradigm in which people become partners of other people’s personal brands.”
The platform leverages “social game economics” through game design and simple rules to manage economic concepts like supply and demand, as well as inflation, among other things, Sideman said. The core of Revel’s economy is a gameplay concept that constrains supply and asset publishing to “healthy inflation levels,” he added.
“We call it ‘Proof of Demand Minting,’ whereby anyone can mint their first collection, but only people who get collected can mint more,” Sideman noted. “We gamify it to simplify it and obfuscate economic complexities. The results are that people are trading in a marketplace, contributing to managing efficient economies, by playing a collectibles game.”
Early adopters on the platform are both web3-savvy folks as well as young people “who have more time to engage with new platforms and figure out new games,” Sideman said. The platform has also attracted content creators like Cyrus Dobre, who has nearly 10 million TikTok followers and “regularly mints his art” on the marketplace, Sideman said.
The raise included investors from Union Square Ventures, Sfermion, 6th Man Ventures, Gaingels, Wagmi Ventures, Alumni Ventures, Global Impact Ventures, Hansa Labs and Polygon, among others. The capital will be used to expand Revel’s web3 interoperability, generative and collaborative AI functionality and social features, Sideman said.
As it stands, there isn’t a robust social media collectible ecosystem. Some marketplaces aren’t very social, like OpenSea or Magic Eden, and collectible platforms like Sorare and NBA Top Shot aren’t social media-focused, Sideman said.
“What is not here yet, and is inevitable, is that the media published on social media, by users, personal media, will all be ownable and collectible,” Sideman said. “This triggers a new breed of services, services that are part social networks, part marketplaces and part social games.”
Revel is a cross between a social network and a marketplace. It’s supposed to be a simple trading platform that’s gamified, allowing individuals to mint photos and videos as collectibles. But whether the concept will pick up among smaller creators and average people is yet to be determined.
“The everyday person won’t want to ‘buy’ your photo, but it’s more nuanced than that,” Sideman said. “The tail of the creator economy keeps getting longer … [and] we’ve created a free economy that we expect most people won’t open their wallets for. They can barter and say, ‘Give me three of these for one of those.’ In many ways, it’s a media game.” Some people can make offers with just assets, or they can offer assets plus money to get a trade, Sideman added.
There are other projects centered around individual creators in the market today — one new entrant is making particular noise — but if the genre of digital collectibles can grow despite a generally lackluster NFT market, Revel may be onto something interesting: a real use case for the blockchain.