Ayoken raises $1.4M to grow its NFT marketplace for creatives – TechCrunch

Ayoken, an NFT marketplace for creatives, has raised $1.4 million in pre-seed funding to enable users to grow their revenue streams through digital collectibles.

The startup’s marketplace, Ayokenlabs, will feature digital collectibles from musicians, sports brands and influencers from around the world.

Ayoken founder and CEO Joshua King told TechCrunch that the marketplace bridges fans and artists, giving supporters a sense of ownership in the success of their idols.

Through the NFT marketplace, he said, fans can access tokens such as behind-the-scenes videos and album covers. NFT holders also get other benefits, such as access to unreleased music and exclusive live events by the creatives.

“VIP Passes give fans the opportunity to actually livestream music from these artists before it arrives on Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music. Fans will also receive discounts for future events,” said King, who has 14 years of experience in strategy, growth and innovation consulting and entrepreneurship. His career includes helping to scale up AZA (Bitpesa), a Nairobi-based platform that uses bitcoin to facilitate cross-border remittances, and where he was first introduced to crypto and blockchain technology.

King said Ayoken will be releasing NFTs from some of the major African artists and others around the world in the coming months.

The London-headquartered startup is already teaming up with Ghanaian afrobeat artist KiDi (Dennis Nana Dwamena) for its first NFT drop on the first day of June. King said the cross-chain marketplace (although currently built on Avalanche blockchain) allows crypto and card payments, but plans to add mobile money — as the startup makes it easier for people in emerging markets like Africa to easily to trade. King said they are in negotiations with a number of telcos on the continent to make this a reality.

“We are reducing friction points for the users by letting people use their cards instead of having to use crypto to buy. We are working on partnerships with telcos that will allow people in the future to use mobile money to make the payment as well. Nothing comes in close to what we do and that’s why we’re able to sign some of the biggest names in the creative industry,” he said.

Users get token (Ayo) rewards when they buy the NFTs or refer people, which they can later exchange for an NFT.

King said that unlike other NFT marketplaces, they have distribution partners including YouTubers, influencers, newsletters, crypto exchanges and telecom to promote NFT drops — allowing the creatives to reach a wider audience, not just their fan base.

“This means that celebrities don’t rely on their social media followers to drive transactions. With the touch of a button, they get instant access to millions of people around the world. And our approach is so different from any other NFC marketplace in the world. we also have a marketing agency to help these creatives succeed in their first NFT drops,” King said.

“They (distribution partners) get a revenue share based on all the transactions generated on their social media promotions”.

Using the funds raised from the investors including Founders Factory Africa, Texas-based Kon Ventures, Europe-based venture capital collective Crypto League, Ghana-based R9C Ventures and Maximus Ventures, Ayoken is planning a number of exclusive deals forging with artists and partnerships with telcos, in addition to expanding the team and secondary marketplaces.

“A majority of the funding will be spent on buying exclusive licenses and building our technical team, i.e. the developers and engineers by a factor of four,” he said.

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