OnChain Studios raises $23M Series A led by a16z crypto to build ‘the future of play’: Cryptoys

By Nancy Dahlberg

What would the concept of play look like in a web3 world? We’re about to find out.

OnChain Studios, makers of Cryptoys, an NFT-native toy, gaming and entertainment universe, announced today it has closed a $23 million Series A funding round led by a16z crypto. Participants in the round include Draper & Associates, Acrew Capital, CoinFund, Animoca Brands, Sound Ventures, Dapper Labs, Mattel and a strong homegrown Miami group of investors with Miami Angels, Flamingo Capital, Adriana Cisneros and Mark Kingdon.

The funding comes on the heels of another big announcement from this Miami-based tech startup. Two weeks ago, OnChain Studios announced that it has entered a global, multi-year partnership with Mattel to bring its iconic toys into an expansive ,playable metaverse.

The double helping of big news is the lead-up to the Cryptoys platform launch later this summer, ushering in a new era for the toy and game industry on the Flow blockchain, says OnChain Studios CEO Will Weinraub. “We’re excited to show players and collectors a whole new world of playing and collecting that’s possible through the Cryptoys universe.”

Weinraub has described OnChain’s flagship product, Cryptoys, as the Nintendo native of Web3. Cryptoys got its start as Weinraub’s passion project with his young daughter before he decided to go all-in and bring his former co-founders back together. Cryptoys are fully digital NFT (non-fungible token) toys that consumers will be able to buy, sell, collect and play with inside an immersive world built on the blockchain. Each Cryptoy can gain capabilities as it is played with and unlock new fun experiences.

What can we expect with this new round of funding?

“We’re really excited about many different aspects of the company right now. Primarily, we’re gearing up for our genesis launch for our initial line of Cryptoys and we’re aiming for that to happen sometime over the next couple of months,” says Weinraub, in an interview with Refresh Miami.

First to be dropped will be the Cryptoys’ panda, corgi and kitty, Weinraub says. “We’ll reveal their names, their origin stories and an animated trailer that goes along with these characters and where they came from and a lot more.”

Then the initial Mattel drops will start. Will it be Barbie, American Girl,  Masters of the Universe or another beloved toy? We’ll have to wait to find out.

After that, perhaps as soon as this fall, Cryptoys plans to release a number of mini-games that will allow collectors to experience play-to-earn gaming in a fun and accessible way. Cryptoys products will start out restricted to 18+, because of the current logistics of owning an NFT, but the company plans to eventually offer parent-controlled wallets for minors.

The team is also working on AI-interactivity, elevated collector experiences and an original animated series for future releases.

“We’re developing a number of different games and applications that you could use your Cryptoys in,” Weinraub explains. “Some of those applications will have AI-based elements to it so you’ll be able to interact with your Cryptoys and converse with them through natural language processing and have conversations and different interactions with them in that way.”

OnChain Studios is now a team of 41. Along with Weinraub, the co-founding team is his two co-founders from his former startup, LiveNinja CTO Emilio Cueto and CXO Alfonso Martinez – as well as COO Jhonathan Torres and CCO Freddy Oropeza [pictured above].

The startup just renewed its lease at the old LiveNinja office, which has been beautifully transformed into a shared office space with Nico Berardi, David Goldberg, Chris Uhrig and others. Rebecca Danta, former managing director of Miami Angels who recently joined OnChain Studios as Head of Partnerships, will also be based out of that office. Expect “a special reunion edition of #WaffleWednesday,” Weinraub says. Stay tuned for more details.

With the new funding will come more team expansion “across engineering, design, art and animation to build out the ecosystem and more games and experiences for the community and collectors,” Weinraub says.

Andreessen Horowitz also led OnChain Studios’ $7.5 million seed round last year. At the time, a16z crypto General Partner Arianna Simpson said a16z was excited to partner with OnChain’s “world-class team” to “introduce the joys of NFT gaming to mainstream audiences.”

Now she seems no less bullish, despite current market realities.

“We believe the Cryptoyverse is the future of play and will be an expansive and immersive world filled with collective toys, play-and-earn, and animated entertainment,” Simpson said today in a statement. “The high caliber of creative and storytelling from the Cryptoys team is primed to delight and excite the next generation of consumers and collectors.”

Photos provided by OnChain Studios



Nancy Dahlberg