The Sandbox and Brinc launch US$50m ‘metaverse accelerator’ program to fund 100 startups
Animoca Brands’, The Sandbox, has announced a multi-million-dollar “metaverse accelerator” program in collaboration with Hong Kong venture capital and accelerator Brinc, aiming to fund over 100 new start-ups to contribute to Animoca’s expansive metaverse.
New start-ups welcomed into the program will receive an initial investment of up to US$250,000 (A$353,000) each, to help “create a participatory and collaborative non-zero-sum environment based on openness, equitability, user governance, and digital property rights,” according to Animoca Brands executive chairman and co-founder Yat Siu.
The decentralised gaming company said it committed US$50 million (A$71 million) directly to Brinc as a means of attracting new contributions and talent to The Sandbox metaverse, and to fill the space with “fresh creativity and new content”.
Brinc was founded in 2014, with a “primary focus” on consumer hardware companies.
Since then, the venture capital firm has expanded its scope to include industries such as food, health and “deep tech”. One particular new stream of investment has been towards categories like Web 3.0 and NFTs.
Animoca has played a significant role in Brinc’s development by co-launching the blockchain/NFT accelerator Launchpad Luna in 2021.
Moreover, Animoca Brands led a $30 million Series B funding round for Brinc, to assist the accelerator in expanding its offering by adding locations and hiring personnel.
In public comments last year, Brinc co-founder Bay McLaughlin identified several Asian markets the company was considering targeting for potential expansion including Japan, Korea, Singapore and India, as well as an added presence in China.
The newly announced metaverse accelerator program is scheduled to commence in Q2 2022 as a “dedicated track” within Launchpad Luna with the aim of “accelerating 30 to 40 start-ups a year over a three-year period”.
Animoca also revealed the accelerator program will invest in, mentor, educate, and support the development of promising start-ups and projects, while also providing access to potential partnerships and business development opportunities across the growing networks of The Sandbox, Animoca Brands and Brinc.
“With imagination, ideas and hard work, start-ups from all over the world can realise their visions and drive societal impact by creating more opportunities for everyone. We’re especially eager to support underrepresented founders in their ambitions as they explore the infinite possibilities offered into The Sandbox ecosystem,” said Sebastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox and chairman of the Blockchain Gamer Alliance.
As a means of filtering new entrants and ensuring new content is of sufficiently quality, The Sandbox will evaluate new entrants on their “traction, technical expertise, and ability to deliver unique experiences”.
In a further incentive to captivate early adoption and new content creation, The Sandbox will provide further grants of up to US$150,000 in SAND tokens and LAND grants to the “best performers” able to create the most engaging features. Animoca also confirmed that further benefits are also being earmarked for “start-ups that demonstrate meaningful traction post-program”.
The Sandbox momentum
The Sandbox metaverse aims to revolutionise how people interact in their day-to-day lives, including how users interact socially, shop, or consume entertainment.
According to The Sandbox co-founders Arthur Madrid and Sebastien Borget, the gaming metaverse’s ultimate goal is to enable participants to experience a “blockchain-based social hub” where people build collections of fantasy and role-playing adventures, trade collectables with other players, creators and artists, and possibly most importantly, engage with millions of other people in real-time.
Over the past two years, Animoca Brands has struck several high profile partnerships with the likes of American rapper Snoop Dogg, who owns virtual land in the metaverse and is expected to serve up VIP access to concerts, events and dedicated digital items.
Meanwhile, arcade gaming pioneer Atari has agreed to promote its global gaming brand RollerCoaster Tycoon, with plans of introducing intellectual property from its portfolio to The Sandbox metaverse. Fans of the hit TV series, The Walking Dead, will see the franchise appear in The Sandbox courtesy of IP owner Skybound Entertainment.
“The open metaverse will not be owned by any single entity and thus presents an incredible opportunity to create a participatory and collaborative nonzero-sum environment based on openness, equitability, user governance, and digital property rights,” said Mr Siu.
As a vocal call to gamers, content creators and companies, Mr Siu added: “Pioneering blockchain start-ups in the fields of art, collectables, culture, entertainment, gaming, media, content, and streaming, are encouraged to apply.”