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Web3-focused Beacon launches flagship demo day with 13 crypto startups

We’re only in the second week of 2023, but demo days have already begun as founders try to keep momentum alive in the ever-changing crypto market.

Beacon, a web3-focused early-stage accelerator program, launched last year, and its flagship cohort just graduated. The teams in the first cohort, known as Cohort 0, presented their ideas on Tuesday during a demo day, exclusively covered by TechCrunch.

“For Cohort 0, we spoke with over 1,000 projects to end up at 15 companies in Cohort 0 with 13 graduating at our Demo Day,” Sandeep Nailwal, core contributor of Beacon and co-founder of Polygon, said to TechCrunch. “With the current rate of applications for Cohort 1, we’re planning to land at a similar 1% acceptance rate.”

The three-month program runs twice a year and accepts about 15 to 20 applicants for its fall and spring cohorts.

“We feel like Cohort 0 is our MVP of Beacon,” Nailwal said. “So for this cohort, we hand-picked our favorite teams through taking calls with founders sourced through our networks.”

Mentors include Jack Lu, CEO and co-founder of Magic Eden; a handful of venture capitalists; Rob Behnke, co-founder of Halborn; Brendan Farmer, co-lead at Polygon Zero; Dan Kim, VP of business development and listing at Coinbase; and Miles Anthony, CEO and co-founder of Decentral Games, to name a few.

For the next cohort, there will be a standard $250,000 investment, with an $8 million post-money valuation from Beacon for each company in the program, Nailwal noted. In Cohort 0, investments were done on a case-by-case basis as the team was refining its process, he added.

Beacon is “chain-agnostic,” which means most of the teams in Cohort 0 were building cross-chain applications, Nailwal said. However, Ethereum topped the list for the most teams building on that blockchain. Of the 13 companies, there were 29 founders across nine countries and 13 cities, Kenzi Wang, core contributor at Beacon and co-founder of Symbolic Capital, said during the demo day.

The startups focused on a range of crypto subsectors, like gaming, infrastructure, decentralized lending and borrowing, and developer tooling, to name a few. Almost all of the startups in the cohort are seed stage, with the exception of one company, Community Gaming, at Series A.

Here are the details behind Cohort 0's 13 startups:

Company name: Arcana

  • What it does: Web3 toolkit for developers

  • Founders: Mayur Relekar, Aravindh Kumar

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Arcana wants to help supplement the technological stack for developers with tools to help build secure decentralized applications (dApps). Its core tools include user authentication, storage of data on its decentralized network and access control. The platform aims to provide developers building applications on “almost any chain” the ability to leverage its services and tools.

Company name: Blinkmoon

  • What it does: Game development studio

  • Founders: Hugh Behroozy, Hajeir Mazinani

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Blinkmoon is building an independent gaming development studio to focus on the growing web3 sector. Prior to this, its team members helped create the visuals for “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Game of Thrones,” as well as worked on gaming franchises like League of Legends: Wild Rift, NBA, the Dead Rising and Rainbow Six, to name a few.

Company name: ChapterX

  • What it does: Web3 event experience

  • Founders: Chase Guo

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: ChapterX is a web3 event experience platform that aims to provide organizers the ability to transform their events into unique experiences. The startup provides options to engage attendees through either physical events or customizable virtual worlds in the metaverse with aspects like decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governance or GameFi. Users can also convert their 2D NFTs into 3D avatars through its re-skin system and discover new worlds and join communities through its network.

Company name: Colexion

  • What it does: GameFi ecosystem

  • Founders: Abhay Aggarwal

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Colexion is a card-based GameFi ecosystem that aims to bring Web 2.0 games into the web3 ecosystem through fantasy-focused content. Its system, Colexion Core, provides a host of services like minting, marketplaces, bridges, wallets and more to help traditional games navigate the web3 world. The company is focused on the Asia-Pacific region and has over 15 million active users across more than 10 nations, according to its website. Colexion is backed by Polygon, Alan Howard, Jump Capital, Symbolic Capital, Firestarter and GSR.

Company name: Community Gaming

  • What it does: Esports platform

  • Founders: Chris Gonsalves

  • Stage: Series A

  • The pitch: Community Gaming aims to be an all-in-one esports competition platform that offers infrastructure to industry players. The platform is backed by Ethereum- and Solana-based blockchain payment technologies and provides players, organizers and game developers tools to create, facilitate and participate in esports tournaments. It also provides users the ability to monetize their gameplay by completing quests, a daily content engine for earnings and game discovery.

Company name: Cubist

  • What it does: Web3 developer tools and infrastructure

  • Founders: Ann Stefan, Deian Stefan, Riad Wahby, Fraser Brown

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Cubist is a developer tools and infrastructure provider that aims to bring today’s software engineering practices and security to web3 builders. Its toolkit focuses on providing safer and more secure options so developers can build, test and deploy easily across multi-chain and cross-chain dApps. Its founders include a former fintech COO and computer science professors from Carnegie Mellon University and UC San Diego. The team members have spent their careers retrofitting security for real-world systems and have collectively published over 80 research papers on related topics like computer systems, programming languages, security and cryptography.

Company name: FastLane

  • What it does: MEV solutions for Ethereum-based blockchains and rollups

  • Founders: Alex Watts, Jordan Hagan

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: The FastLane protocol focuses on generating revenue for validators, increasing effectiveness for algorithmic traders and reducing the stress on network participants when overwhelmed with redundant transactions without the need to install or manage custom software on validating nodes. The protocol aims to reduce transaction spam and improve the overall Ethereum network health by monetizing propagation bottlenecks in the layer-2 blockchain Polygon and distributing the rewards to validators involved.

Company name: Meta Apes

  • What it does: Web3 game

  • Founders: Taylor Shim, Nicholas Carr

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Meta Apes is a free-to-play and win-to-earn mobile web3 game built on the BNB Application Sidechain (BAS). Players have the ability to build their own cities and communities while competing and exploring others to win the “race to space.” The game aims to combine traditional gaming elements like massively multiplayer online (MMO) strategies and web3 elements such as in-game currencies. The team has worked at places like Ubisoft, Gameloft, Zynga, AppLovin and Epic.

Company name: Mystic Moose

  • What it does: Web3 gaming developer

  • Founders: Mike Levine

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Mystic Moose is a web3 platform, gaming studio and publisher that was formed by a team of gaming veterans who have worked at Activision, LucasArts and Electronic Arts. Its first game, Planet Mojo, was built on top of its scalable backend platform Sumatra and is a browser-based server of interconnected games. Its auto chess game, Mojo Melee, is currently in alpha playtesting and plans to launch fully in the first quarter of this year on browsers and mobile. The studio is backed by Animoca Brands, Republic Crypto and Polygon Studios, among others.

Company name: Nillion

  • What it does: Web3 infrastructure

  • Founders: Alex Page, Andrew Yeoh, Andrew Masanto

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Nillion is a web3 infrastructure startup focused on securing storage, computation and fragmentation of data on the internet. “Nillion is a deep technology infrastructure project,” Andrew Yeoh, the company’s founding chief marketing officer, previously told TechCrunch. “While blockchains decentralize finance, Nillion aims to decentralize everything else and the rest of data.” The founders include ex-Uber, Indiegogo and Hedera Hashgraph employees, as well as executives from Coinbase and Nike. The company raised more than $20 million in December 2022 from over 150 investors in a “conscious decision” to prevent concentrated ownership, Nillion CEO Alex Page said in a statement.

Company name: Davos Protocol

  • What it does: Stable asset lending protocol

  • Founders: Varun Satyam, Julian Hayward, Filipe Gonçalves

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Davos Protocol is home to its stable asset, DAVOS, which is stabilized by its monetary policy that balances yield generation and price stability on a weekly basis by leveraging liquid staking, according to its website. It provides users the ability to borrow DAVOS using liquid staking tokens as collateral. Users can also supply stable asset pairs to provide liquidity, yield farm and earn rewards. The team aims to promote blockchain technology in mainstream adoption by incentivizing borrowers and stakers through its protocol. Its strategic partners include Polygon and Ankr.

Company name: Timeswap

  • What it does: Decentralized lending and borrowing protocol

  • Founders: Ameeth Devadas, Harshita Singh, Ricsson Ngo

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Timeswap is a decentralized lending and borrowing platform as well as an automated market maker (AMM) protocol powered by Polygon. Its key features include flexible interest rates and collateral factors so users can have the flexibility to decide their risk-return profile as well as allowing users to create any Ethereum-based ERC20 token pool by providing the proper liquidity. Since launching in August 2020, the platform has done over $4 million of lending, borrowing and liquidity volume on its protocol without any token incentives, according to a post from August.

Company name: Ylide

  • What it does: Decentralized protocol for wallet communication

  • Founders: Ignat Shapkin, Kirill Zubkov, Danila Simonov

  • Stage: Seed

  • The pitch: Ylide is a decentralized protocol for wallet-to-wallet communication that allows multichain messaging, data storage into smart contracts and end-to-end encryption. It also has its own mail client as well as tools for developers to integrate communication features into their projects, “as easily as building a Lego set,” the team said.