Singapore-based game-fi blockchain startup Ethlas raises $2.7m seed funding round
Singapore-based game finance (game-fi) blockchain startup, Ethlas, announced it has secured $2.7 million in seed funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital India, Yield Guild Games Southeast Asia, Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, Venturra Capital, Play It Forward DAO, Blockchain Space, Genesis Fund, Deus Ex DAO, Hustle Fund, and executives from Grab, Coinbase, Switcheo and CoinMarketCap.
The hitherto stealth startup has also unveiled the identities of two of its four founders: American Gennady 'Ari' Medvinsky and Singaporean Elston Sam, who have both worked in top tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Grab, and Airbnb. The identities of the other two founders – one of whom is a very senior executive with a Big Tech firm - will be disclosed in due course.
The three-month-old Ethlas is the first game-fi startup founded in Singapore to have secured serious investor money, underlining the confidence that VCs have in this fledgling tech startup that first launched quietly in November 2021. Built on the Polygon blockchain, Ethlas has chalked up over 100,000 crypto-wallet users globally and scored some three million gameplays on its platform as of end-January 2022. The rapid scale that Ethlas achieved product market fit has been one of the key reasons for its seed fundraising success.
According to a Bloomberg report in January 2022, the number of blockchain games grew nearly threefold: from about 200 in 2020 to more than 544 in 2021. Most game-fi platforms have a high barrier of entry, requiring gamers to pay subscription fees or have upfront capital. On the contrary, Ethlas – a portmanteau of "Ethereum" and "Atlas" – is a free-to-play, play-to-earn platform which helps the lay person win and encash cryptocurrency, by participating in simple, easily-understood casual games that everyone is familiar with.
Think Tetris, Candy Crush and Bubble Popper but way cooler. To start playing, gamers just need to install MetaMask, a software crypto wallet or link their wallets, and they can start playing in the Ethlas metaverse on a PC or mobile phone's browser. There are no complicated onboarding rules or requirements to sign up with a hefty subscription fee.
As part of its product roadmap, Ethlas will mint its first series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called Komos. Modelled after the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia, the Komo NFTs will benefit both free-to-play gamers and crypto natives: Free-to-play gamers can use the five tiers of the Komo NFT to boost their gameplay and secure more $XGEM (Exchange Genesis Ethlas Medium), the in-game cryptocurrency in the Ethlas metaverse; crypto natives can benefit from the intrinsic value of a well-designed NFT that has in-game utility and facilitates scholarships (NFT rental). The Komo NFT series will be available before end-February 2022. Ethlas is also working with game studios to launch their games on their platform through a revenue-sharing model.
Elston Sam, Co-founder, Ethlas: "The unique value proposition of Komo NFTs is that they do not only function as game passes on Ethlas granting players special access to games and features, they are also asset-backed NFTs, which consist of staked tokens wrapped as an ERC-721 token that has recently started gaining popularity. Ethlas' Komo NFTs possess both intrinsic artistic as well as monetary value, thereby driving up their desirability as a piece of tradeable art. Most game NFTs do not provide such value as Komo."