Ayoken, an NFT marketplace for creatives, has raised $1.4 million pre-seed funding to enable users grow their revenue streams through digital collectibles.
The startup’s marketplace, Ayokenlabs, will feature digital collectibles from musicians, sports brands and influencers from all over the world.
Ayoken founder and CEO, Joshua King, told TechCrunch that the marketplace is a bridge between fans and artists, and gives supporters a sense of ownership in the success of their idols.
Through the NFT marketplace, he said, fans will have access to tokens such as behind-the-scenes videos and album art. NFT holders will also get other perks like access to unreleased music and exclusive live events by the creatives.
“Through VIP passes, fans will get the ability to actually livestream music by these artists before it arrives on Spotify, YouTube or Apple Music. Fans will get discounts for future events too,” said King, who has 14 years’ experience in strategy, growth and innovation consultancy, and entrepreneurship. His career includes helping scale AZA (Bitpesa), a Nairobi-based platform that leverages bitcoin to facilitate cross-border remittances and where he first got introduced to crypto and blockchain technology.
King said Ayoken will over the next few months release NFTs of some major African artists and others across the world.
The London-headquartered startup has already partnered with Ghanaian afrobeats artist KiDi (Dennis Nana Dwamena) for his 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 trade with ease. King said they are negotiating partnerships with a number of telcos in 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 to use mobile money to make the payment in future too. Nothing comes close to what we are doing and that is why we are able to sign some of the biggest names in the creative industry,” he said.
Users will get token (Ayo) rewards when they buy the NFTs or refer people, which they can redeem later for an NFT.
King said, unlike other NFT marketplaces, they have distribution partners including YouTubers, influencers, newsletters, crypto exchanges and telecoms to promote NFT drops — allowing the creatives to tap a wider audience and not just their fanbase.
“What this means is that celebrities do not have to rely on their social media following to drive transactions. They get instant access to millions of people all around the world at the touch of a button. And our approach is so different to any other NFC marketplace on the planet. We also have a marketing agency to help these creatives succeed in their first NFT drops,” said King.
“They (distribution partners) will get a revenue share based on any transactions generated on their social media promotions.”
Using the funds raised from the investors, among them Founders Factory Africa, Texas-based Kon Ventures, Europe-based venture capital collective Crypto League, Ghana-based R9C Ventures and Maximus Ventures, Ayoken plans to sign a number of exclusive deals with artists and partnerships with telcos, besides growing its team and secondary marketplaces.
“A majority of the funding will go into buying exclusive licenses and into building our tech team; that is the developers and engineers by fourfold,” he said.